On March 15, 2011, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in cooperation with UNDP Bangladesh, organised a consultative workshop on the role of the NHRC in combating violence by state mechanism in Dhaka. Mr. Stefan Priesner, Resident Representative, a.i., UNDP Bangladesh attended the workshop as the Special Guest with State Minister, MoLJPA, Adv. Qamrul Islam as the Chief Guest and Prof. Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairman, NHRC as Chair.
The inaugural session of the workshop was attended by over one hundred participants including government officials, academics, journalists, human rights defenders and students. In his speech, the UNDP Resident Representative a.i noted the inherent tension in state monopoly of power for maintaining of public order and human security with its corresponding duty to ensure protection of human rights.
Mr. Priesner also highlighted some important and constructive recommendations that will help improve the situation including:
- Modernization of laws and legal frameworks such as the Police Act, Evidence Act, Penal Code etc., to enable effective investigation and prosecution of cases of human rights violation and improved protection for detainees
- Implementation of institutional safeguards to strengthen the accountability of the state institutions and ensure punishment of offenders; as well as capacity development initiatives
- Enhancing access to justice to enable prioritization of cases relating to human rights violation by the state to ensure the right to a remedy for the victims
- Increasing public education and awareness to sensitize citizens so more are aware of their rights can readily identify when these have been violated and so are better equipped to access justice when their rights are violated by the state.
The Chief Guest, Honorable State Minister Advocate Qamrul Islam reiterated the Government`s commitment for an effective and independent Commission and pledged that its recommendations would be taken on board in a spirit of collaboration, for development of the human rights situation of the country.
The inaugural session was followed by thematic group work sessions focusing on torture and detention, custodial unnatural death, forced disappearance and collective effort and coalition building. Recommendations of the participants were collected to assist with the completion of the NHRC`s Strategic Plan that has seen wide national consultations over the past months to ensure broad stakeholder ownership of the plan and the activities of the NHRC.