Shrinking civic space a concern: UNRC

 Shrinking civic space a concern: UNRC

UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo.

UN ready for electoral assistance if govt wants

United Nations resident coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo on Sunday expressed concern about shrinking civic space, growing inequalities and increasing violence against women. 

She emphasized the need for protecting the civic space, reviewing the Digital Security Act and implementing the recommendations made during the universal periodic review at the UN.

‘There are areas that the UN is concerned about. There is concern about increasing violence against women. We are concerned about growing inequalities — it is a global concern. We are concerned about signs of shrinking civic space, again, a global concern,’ she said replying to questions on human rights situation in Bangladesh at a function in Dhaka.

In addition to emphasising the need for protecting the civic space, she expressed hope that the government will review the Digital Security Act and implement the recommendations made following the universal periodic review under the UN mechanism to improve the situation.

The UPR is a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN member countries.

Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh organised the function styled as DCAB Talk.

Mentioning the lack of balance in the DSA as law and its use, she recommended that the DSA should be reviewed in compliance with the international human rights standards to minimise its misuse while regulating the digital space.

The UNRC also mentioned the forced disappearances and expressed hope that Bangladesh would ratify the international convention on the protection of all persons from forced disappearances.

Replying to a question on whether the UN will provide electoral assistance to Bangladesh in the next general election, Mia Seppo said ‘the UN stands ready’ to extend electoral assistance depending on the receipt of requests from Bangladesh.

Many foreign ambassadors will remain active as they did in the past in monitoring the elections, she said.

Supporting the World Bank’s move for preparing a global policy on the integration of refugees in their host countries, she said the UN ‘is on the same page’ with the World Bank on the global policy on mobilising resources for the refugees and the host communities.

‘It is about social cohesion; it is not about integration,’ she claimed, adding that application of the WB policy in Bangladesh ‘requires discussions.’

The international community funded approximately 53.5 per cent of a successive joint response plan for the Rohingya refugees of Myanmar which amounted to US$ 2.68 billion since 2017, she said, adding that only 38 per cent of the 2021 appeal was funded which stood at only US$ 943 million. 

DCAB president Pantho Rahman and general secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke on the occasion.

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