Dhaka, Nov 1 (UNB) - UN human rights experts have strongly urged states to take firm steps to ensure accountability for violence and attacks against journalists, reversing and resisting the appalling trend of impunity.
They made the call while speaking ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists that falls on November 2.
“Journalists around the world face threats and attacks, often instigated by government officials, organised crime, or terrorist groups. Political leaders incite hostility by framing reporters as ‘enemies of the people’ or ‘terrorists’,” the statement reads.
The UN experts are David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Tae-Ung Baik (Vice Chair), Bernard Duhaime (Chair), Houria Es-Slami, Luciano Hazan, Henrikas Mickevicius, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
They said hundreds of journalists are detained or forcibly disappeared because of their journalist work, according to the statement UNB received from Geneva.
“Governments conduct surveillance of journalists and undermine digital security as part of the daily attack on free and independent media. Press freedom organisations conservatively estimate that dozens of reporters have been killed this year alone.”
They said the states have not responded adequately to these crimes against journalists.
“Most recently, states and the international community, including the United Nations, have failed to address the enforced disappearance and murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The only way forward is to establish an independent, transparent and credible investigation into his murder, one authorised by and reporting to the United Nations. Anything short of a complete investigation, recognised as such by the international community, will make a mockery of government claims of commitment to the safety of journalists.”
As a matter of urgency, the experts called on all states to implement the international legal framework on safety of journalists.
They said the high-level commitments, such as the latest resolution on the safety of journalists adopted this year by the Human Rights Council, must be implemented.
"We call on all leaders worldwide to end their role in the incitement of hatred and violence against the media. These last weeks have demonstrated once again the toxic nature and outsized reach of political incitement against journalists, and we demand that it stop," the statement reads.
Dhaka, Nov 1 (UNB) - Although the country has taken some initiatives to make doing business easier, the marginal change in Bangladesh's position in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2019 report indicates that the pace of reforms needs to be increased significantly.
Economies in South Asia region made further gains to improve the ease of doing business for domestic small and medium enterprises with Afghanistan and India ranked as top improvers, says the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2019: Training for Reformreport, released on Wednesday.
Bangladesh continued to invest in the electricity grid over the past twelve months, it showed.
Since 2015, Bangladesh has increased the network capacity in Chittagong and Dhaka.
And as a result, the distribution utilities in both cities are now able to accommodate more connection requests, reducing the time required for businesses to obtain a new electricity connection, from more than 400 days in 2014, to less than 150 days in 2018.
However, Bangladesh still ranks 176 globally, one place up from last year’s ranking of 177.
A total of 19 business reforms were carried out in the region during the past year, the second highest ever, compared with previous year’s revised record of 21 reforms.
In a first for South Asia, two of the region’s economies have earned coveted spots in this year’s global top improvers, India and Afghanistan.
India, which is a top improver for a second consecutive year, implemented six reforms in the past year and advanced to 77th place in the global ranking. India is now the region’s top-ranked economy.
Afghanistan, a top improver for the first time, carried out a record five reforms, moving up to 167th rank, according to the report.
“These results from the Doing Business 2019 report are great news for South Asia and underscore the need to persist with challenging reforms that can provide more opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty and spread prosperity more widely,” said Hartwig Schafer, Vice President for the South Asia Region of the World Bank.
“We’re looking forward to working with governments in the region to achieve more gains in coming years.”
The reforms in India included streamlining the process of obtaining a building permit and improved building quality controls.
The reform applies to both Delhi and Mumbai, the two cities covered by the Doing Business report.
Starting a Business was made easier through consolidation of multiple application forms and introduction of a Goods and Service Tax (GST), while Getting Electricity was made faster and cheaper.
Other reforms in India included strengthening access to credit as well as making it easier and faster to pay taxes and trade across borders.
Afghanistan enacted a new insolvency law, which strengthened access to credit and made resolving insolvency easier. Protections for minority investors were strengthened by increasing shareholders’ rights and role in major corporate decisions, clarifying ownership and control structures and requiring greater corporate transparency.
Afghanistan also made it easier to pay taxes and start a business.
Pakistan continued its strong reform agenda, with three reforms carried out in the past year. Registering Property was made easier in both Lahore and Karachi, the two cities covered in the Doing Business report.
Both cities also introduced reforms to make it easier to resolve insolvencies and register a new business.
Sri Lanka carried out four reforms which included making Dealing with Construction Permits easier, while the introduction of online systems made it easier to pay taxes in Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Sri Lanka advances to a global rank of 100 this year.
“South Asia continues on a strong reform agenda, thanks to political commitment and hard work that is involved in improving the domestic investment climate. This is particularly commendable in the case of Afghanistan, where conflict and insecurity make the work so much more challenging,” said Rita Ramalho, Senior Manager of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, which produces the report.
Doing Business includes gender dimensions in three indicators: Starting a Business, Registering Property and Enforcing Contracts.
It finds that Afghanistan and Pakistan impose additional procedures for female entrepreneurs.
South Asian economies perform best in the areas of Protecting Minority Investors and Starting a Business. For example, it takes on average 14 days to register a new business in the region, compared with 20 days globally.
The region underperforms in the areas of Enforcing Contracts and Registering Property. In South Asia, registering a property takes 114 days, compared to 47 days on average globally.
Resolving a commercial dispute in the region takes 1102 days on average, almost twice the global average of 647 days.
Since Doing Business began in 2003, Starting a Business and Getting Credit have seen the most reforms in South Asia.
As a result, the average time to start a business in the region has dropped to 15 days, from 53 days in 2003, and the cost has been reduced to 12 percent of income per capita, from 47 percent.
Getting Credit became easier in South Asia partly due collateral and bankruptcy law reforms that improved legal protection of lenders’ and borrowers’ rights.
This year, Doing Business collected data on regulation setting standards for electrical installations.
A case study in the report, which analyzes this data, finds that a robust regulatory framework governing the electricity sector and the accreditation of the electrician profession protects public safety.
A second study finds that regular training for customs clearance officials and brokers results in lower border and documentary compliance times, easing the movement of goods across borders.
It finds that India has supported its ambitious reform agenda by providing regular training to both customs officials and private sector agents, as well as by establishing Customs Clearance Facilitation Committees which bring together actors involved in international trade at regular meetings.
Two other case studies focus on the benefits of training judges and public officials of business and land registries.
Cox’s Bazar, Oct 31 (UNB) - A total of 2,260 Rohingyas of 485 families will be repatriated in the first phase as Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin their repatriation in mid-November, said a senior official on Wednesday.
Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myint Thu told reporters that they have verified about 5,000 Rohingyas and the first batch of repatriation will begin in mid-November.
He made the remarks while briefing reporters at Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Ukhia upazila of the district in the afternoon.
The joint working group members from both sides, including Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, visited Rohingya camps on Wednesday and talked to Rohingya representatives.
Rohingyas, however, said they will not go back to their place of origin in Rakhine if their basic rights, including citizenship and housing facilities, are not provided.
On Tuesday, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation of the first batch of Rohingyas by mid-November.
The third foreign secretary-level JWG meeting, held at State guesthouse Meghna in the city, was co-chaired by Permanent Secretary Myint Thu of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and his Bangladesh counterpart Senior Secretary M Shahidul Haque of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
After the third foreign secretary-level JWG meeting held at State guesthouse Meghna in the capital, Myanmar Permanent Secretary Myint Thu said they had a very friendly and candid meeting and came up with the “very concrete results” on the commencement of the repatriation.
“We’ve shown our political will, flexibility, and accommodation in order to commence the repatriation at the earliest possible dates,” he said.
The Myanmar official claimed they have streamlined lots of local directives to promote awareness on repatriation among the returnees.
“We’re also promoting public policy which includes police personnel together with the local communities to maintain and promote law and order,” he said adding that they are also promoting awareness on the fundamental principles so that people can get access to justice system if they encounter any issue.
Bangladesh and Myanmar formed the Joint Working Group (JWG) on December 2017 to start the repatriation of Rohingya refugees by January 23, 2018.
In May, the Myanmar side urged the Bangladesh side to start the repatriation of the earlier verified 778 Muslims and 444 Hindus.
Dhaka, Oct 31 (UNB) – Mentioning that having dialogue on any issue is always better, outgoing US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat hoped on Wednesday that the beginning of recent dialogue process among the political parties will bring something good for Bangladesh.
Bernicat made the remarks when she made farewell call on President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban, said President's Press Secretary Joynal Abedin after the meeting.
Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday invited leaders of Jatiya Oikyafront and Bikolpo Dhara Bangladesh (BDB) to join talks with her party on Thursday and Friday respectively over the next general election.
During the meeting with Bernicat, the President spoke of excellent bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the US. "The bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and the US has been strengthened alongside the expansion of the volume of trade and investment,” he said.
Abdul Hamid also congratulated Bernicat on completion of her tenure successfully.
Praising the US role over the Rohingya crisis, he expressed the hope that its support to face the future challenge of the Rohingya crisis and ensure their safe repatriation to their homeland in Rakhine state of Myanmar will continue in the coming days.
The US envoy lauded the role of Bangladesh over the Rohingya issue. "The support from the US for Rohingyas and their safe and respected repatriation will be continued in the future," she said.
Bernicat became the US Ambassador to Bangladesh on February 4, 2015. She is expected to leave Dhaka on Friday.
Dhaka, Oct 31 (UNB) - Denmark and World Food Program (WFP) reassured Bangladesh that they will continue their support and cooperation for the repatriation of Rohingyas and their subsistence here.
Visiting Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Pederson Tornaes and Executive Director of World Food Program (WFP) David Beasley came up with the assurance when they met Prime Minister at her official residence Ganobhaban.
PM's press secretary Ehsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
He said Tornaes mainly discussed the Rohingya issue with the Prime Minister and informed the decision of the Danish government of providing US$ 3.5 million humanitarian support for the Rohingyas.
The Danish minister highly appreciated Bangladesh government for hosting huge Rohingays and constant efforts to arrange shelter, food and healthcare facilities for them as well as education for their children.
"It's really a big challenge to host a huge number of people," the Danish minister said adding that she has seen a total change in the atmosphere during her visit to the camps compared to the situation before.
Sheikh Hasina said the process of return of the Rohingyas will begin very soon as Myanmar has agreed to take back their nationals. "A total of 2,260 of 485 families will go back to their home in the first phase," she said.
Hasina requested the Danish government and WFP to extend their support to Rohingyas after their repatriation to Myanmar.
Highlighting the steps taken by her government for temporary shelter, healthcare services and education of the Rohingas she said some 1,600 schools have been built in the refugee camps and educated Rohingya refugees appointed to teach them in their own language.
The government has taken steps to relocate the refugees to cyclone shelter centres constructed at Bhasan Char taking the possible natural disasters into consideration where they would be able to live in a safer and better condition.
Hasina said members of Bangladesh Navy and 7,000 workers have been engaged in Bhasan Char for constructing the shelter centers. "After the repatriation of the Rohingyas, the cyclone centres will be used for domestic purposes."
The Prime Minister briefly described the sufferings of local people due to the influx of Rihingyas into Cox's Bazar and mentioned that the government is helping local people as refugees have occupied their croplands.
The Prime Minister thanked the Danish government for uninterrupted political support and humanitarian assistance for Rohingays.
She also extended special thanks to WFP for its attention to the issue which was crucial for sustainable solution to the crisis.
The press secretary said the issue of upcoming election also came up at the meeting or discussions when the Prime Minister said the election will be held in due time.
"The Election Commission will declare the election schedule and the administration and law enforcement agencies will be controlled by the Election Commission," she said.
Hasina also briefed the Danish minister about Bangladesh's social and economic achievements.