Regretting the deterioration in Bangladesh’s human rights situation over the past few years, a delegation of European Parliament urged the government to take necessary steps for addressing the concerns.
The members of European Parliament (MEP) took note of reports on “hindrance to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and violence against women”.
In a statement concluding their three-day visit on Wednesday, the delegation members expressed hope that the country’s political environment would become less confrontational and hostile in the coming months as the country is heading for parliamentary polls.
The European parliamentarians also urged the Bangladesh authorities “to facilitate the necessary conditions for inclusive, free and fair general elections”.
The team members, during the visit, held meetings with memers of the Jatiya Sanghad (national assembly), representatives of civil society, with the chief election commissioner and also leaders of the principal opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
In the statement, the MEPs recalled that the issue of child marriage remains a serious concern. “Violence against secular writers and bloggers, against members of religious minorities and against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people must end,” they insisted.
The delegation led by Jean Lambert as chair, reiterated their wish to remain engaged and to further support Bangladesh in areas such as human rights, good governance and the environment.
The MEPs recalled that up to euro 690 million have been earmarked in EU support for Bangladesh in the current ‘Multiannual Indicative Programme’ 2014-2020.
The delegation was comprised of vice-chair Richard Corbett, vice-chair James Nicholson, Wajid Khan, and members of the European Parliament’s standing delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia. It included Sajjad Karim, in his capacity as rapporteur on South Asia in the European Parliament’s international trade committee.
While welcoming certain positive development in economic arena, the MEPs mentioned that a number of relevant issues in that context remain pending, notably in the area of labour rights.
The delegation iterated the European Union’s call for allowing freedom of association and collective bargaining in the export processing zones (EPZs). The EU is the largest importer of Bangladesh main exportable item — readymade garments.
The delegation on Monday visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and gathered first-hand information on the ongoing exodus and refugee crisis.
Led by Pier Antonio Panzeri in Cox’s Bazar, the delegation appreciated the commitment and level of assistance provided by the Bangladeshi authorities, the challenges faced by local communities, and the refugees themselves in the face of the oncoming monsoon season.
MEPs reiterated the EU’s support while witnessing the humanitarian tragedy of one of the most serious refugee crisis in the world.
They underlined the need to protect human dignity and hoped that a sustainable solution would be found that also addresses the root causes.
The European parliamentarians are also aware of the funding needs that will be required to address the ongoing crisis, as it unfolds in coming months, and expect the European Union and international community partners to continue its engagement.