18 January 2014
The Financial Express (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh, Jan. 18 — The European Parliament (EP) has urged BNP to 'unequivocally' distance itself from Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam in the interest of Bangladesh's future, reports UNB.

“The EP believes that, in the interest of Bangladesh's future, parties having a democratic reputation need to develop a culture of mutual respect; urges the BNP to unequivocally distance itself from Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam,” according to the text of a resolution on 'recent elections in Bangladesh' adopted by the EP in Strasbourg, France Thursday.

The full text of the resolution is available on the official website of the European Parliament.

Stressing that parties which turn to terrorist acts should be banned, the EP strongly condemned the killings and widespread violence which erupted throughout the country in the run-up to and during the January 2014 elections.

It also strongly condemned attacks on religious and cultural minorities and other vulnerable groups; expressed serious concern at the paralysis of everyday life in Bangladesh on account of strikes and blockades and the confrontation between the two political camps.

The EP called on the government of Bangladesh to immediately halt all repressive methods used by the security forces, including indiscriminate firing with live ammunition and torture in custody, and to release the opposition politicians who have been subjected to arbitrary arrest.

The EP also sought prompt, independent and transparent investigations into the recent cases of violent deaths before and after the elections and demanded bringing to justice the perpetrators, including those in the security services.

It underlined Bangladesh's reputation as a tolerant society within a secular state, and called on the Bangladeshi authorities to provide increased protection for ethnic and religious minorities at risk and to ensure effective prosecution of all instigators of inter-communal violence.

The EP 'sincerely' regretted the fact that the Bangladeshi Parliament and political parties did not manage to agree on an inclusive mechanism for the elections, and called on the government and the opposition to put the best interests of Bangladesh first as a matter of urgency and to find a compromise.

The EP believes that all options should be considered, including an early election if all legitimate political parties are willing to stand and offer voters a choice.

The parliament called on the EU to use all the means at its disposal to assist such a process if requested and to make full use of its resources, in particular the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the Instrument for Stability and called also on its Directorate for Democracy Support to make Bangladesh a focal point for activities of the Office for Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy (OPPD).

The EP acknowledged that, despite its considerable shortcomings, the International Crimes Tribunal has played an important role in providing redress and closure for victims of and those affected by the Bangladeshi war of independence.

It expressed concern, however, at the increasing number of people on death row in Bangladesh, besides the six individuals sentenced by the ICT, and in particular at the sentencing to death of 152 soldiers over a bloody mutiny in 2009 and the recent execution of Abdul Quader Mollah.

The EP called on the government and the parliament to abolish the death penalty and to commute all death sentences; called also on the authorities to urgently set up an effective mechanism to protect witnesses in cases before the ICT.

It called on the government to revise the Information and Communication Technology Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act, which were made more stringent under the last government and can lead to the arbitrary criminalisation of citizens.

The parliament instructed its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the UN Human Rights Council and the government and Parliament of Bangladesh.

Earlier, a joint motion on Bangladesh was moved at the European Parliament for a resolution 'pursuant to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of the Rules of Procedure'.

The motion, moved by the MEPs (members of EP) on behalf of the PPE, S&D, ALDE, Verts/ALE, ECR and GUE/NGL groups, focused on fundamental freedoms, human rights and democracy in general in Bangladesh.

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