UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has called for transparent investigation into the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed and review of the Digital Security Act, under which he was charged.
“The Government must ensure that its investigation into Ahmed’s death is prompt, transparent and independent,” the UN’s top human rights official said in a statement on Monday.
Bachelet also urged the Bangladesh government to conduct a review of the Digital Security Act, under which Mushtaq was charged; suspend its application; and release all those detained under it for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and opinion.
“Various UN human rights bodies have long raised concerns about the ill-defined, overly broad provisions of the Digital Security Act that have been used to punish criticism of the Government,” she said.
She also voiced concerns at reports that police allegedly used excessive force during protests demanding justice over Mushtaq’s death, with reports that 35 people were injured and seven arrested.
Bachelet also expressed serious concern at allegations that another man detained on similar charges as Mushtaq, cartoonist Ahmed Kishore, was subjected to torture or other ill treatment.
According to the office of UNHCR, Mushtaq and Kishore were arrested in May last year for allegedly spreading misinformation about Covid-19 or criticising the government response.
The men were repeatedly denied bail and remained in pre-trial detention for nearly nine months before they were officially charged on January 20 this year for posting “propaganda, false or offensive information, and information that could destroy communal harmony and create unrest”, the rights body noted.
Source: The Daily Star