Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan of the Odhikar group documented extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and police brutality.
A courtroom in Bangladesh has sentenced two main human rights activists to 2 years in jail in a trial that critics say is a part of a authorities crackdown forward of elections.
Each Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan, leaders of the Odhikar human rights organisation, “had been sentenced to 2 years in jail”, Choose Zulfiker Hayat stated on Thursday.
Khan, 63, and Elan, 57, have led Odhikar for many years, working to doc 1000’s of alleged extrajudicial killings, disappearances of opposition activists and police brutality.
The prison fees towards Odhikar’s leaders associated to a fact-finding report they compiled 10 years in the past on extrajudicial killings.
“They had been sentenced to 2 years in jail for publishing and circulating false data, hurting spiritual sentiments and undermining the picture of the state,” prosecutor Nazrul Islam Shamim advised the Agence France-Presse information company.
Al Jazeera’s Tanvir Chowdhury, reporting from Dhaka, stated the courtroom verdict “sends out a chilling message”.
“It comes forward of basic elections and the worldwide eye is on Bangladesh,” he stated.
With a basic election due earlier than the tip of January, a number of Western governments have expressed concern over the political local weather in Bangladesh, the place the ruling occasion dominates the legislature and runs it just about as a rubber stamp.
“This verdict will ship a chilling message to the human rights defenders within the nation and make their work enormously troublesome,” Nur Khan Liton, a former head of one other of the nation’s main human rights organisations, advised the AFP.
Khan and Elan had been within the courtroom in Dhaka for his or her sentencing, which a number of overseas diplomats attended.
Odhikar has been documenting human rights violations in Bangladesh since 1994. It has labored intently with United Nations our bodies and world human rights teams.
This month, the UN voiced alarm at what it stated was Bangladesh’s use of authorized proceedings to intimidate and harass rights advocates and civil society leaders.
Each Khan and Elan “have confronted harassment and intimidation”, UN rights workplace spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani stated final week.
Dhaka reacted angrily to the UN feedback, calling them a “flagrant disrespect” of its justice system.
Final yr, the federal government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cancelled Odhikar’s operating licence after accusing it of tarnishing Bangladesh’s picture, prompting a refrain of condemnation from rights advocates.