Dhaka, Nov 2 (UNB) - The United States has laid emphasis on voluntary return of Rohingyas as Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to begin repatriation of Rohingya refugees in mid-November.
"We continue to call for accountability for those that were responsible, and we
would look closely at any plans to ensure that it is in fact voluntary," Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson at US Department told reporters at a press briefing in Washington, DC.
He said it is important to them that their efforts remain focused on steps that would improve the situation for the Rohingya refugees and to hold accountable all those responsible for this.
"And our goal here is to ease human suffering and to address the root causes of conflict, violence, and abuse," the official said on Thursday.
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 here.
Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myint Thu, however, said that they have verified about 5,000 Rohingyas.
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 ShahidulHaque 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, Nov 1 (UNB) - German Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Fahrenholtz on Thursday welcomed the dialogue between the ruling party Awami League and Oikyafront leaders and beyond as an “important step forward”.
He expressed high confidence that “the elections will be very good and everybody will move forward.”
The new German envoy made the remarks when he met Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at his office.
He highly acclaimed the ‘impressive development’ and ‘positive momentum’ that Bangladesh achieved in the recent past.
The diplomat praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her leadership and ‘personal integrity’ in realizing the “great vision to move Bangladesh forward” with the ongoing large-scale infrastructure projects like Padma Bridge, ‘new hub’ of infrastructure projects in Payra and other mega-projects.
Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz presented his credentials to President Abdul Hamid on September 19, said the Foreign Ministry here.
Globally acclaimed German’s multinational Siemens’ participation in this mega-project with more than 1300 MW power generation, will act as a ‘lighthouse’ for more German investment in Bangladesh, the Ambassador observed.
He also thanked Foreign Minister Ali for his steadfast support for the e-passport project, which a German public/private company “Veridos GmbH” is currently implementing.
Welcoming the new envoy, Foreign Minister Ali expressed deep satisfaction at the ongoing excellent bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Germany.
He also referred to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Munich Security Conference in February 2017 and her fruitful bilateral meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Minister Ali appreciated Germany as it has been the second largest export destination, globally, for Bangladeshi exports.
He invited more German companies to do business in Bangladesh and referred to cultural ties between the two countries, including Tagore’s personal relationships with German luminaries like Albert Einstein.
The Foreign Minister briefed the Ambassador about Rohingya crisis, including recent developments that took place during the Joint Working Group meeting held in Dhaka on 30 October 2018.
He thanked Germany for both political and humanitarian support since beginning of the crisis.
The Ambassador conveyed that Germany is going to commit more resources as humanitarian assistance to Rohingyas.
He assured Bangladesh of extending continued political support, particularly within EU and the UN Security Council, where Germany will assume its non-permanent membership from January 2019.
The German Ambassador briefed Minister Ali about ‘dynamic phase of politics’ in Germany and Europe at large.
Dhaka, Nov 1 (UNB) - The US Embassy in Bangladesh has celebrated six million Facebook fans with a new music video titled ‘Maatbo Amra Uthshobe’.
US Embassy Dhaka’s Facebook page is one of the leading US Embassy Facebook pages in the world, said the US Embassy on Thursday.
The music video featured the outgoing US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat and a number of renowned Bangladeshi celebrities, including Jaya Ahsan, Chancha lChowdhury, Rafiath Rashid Mithila, and Siam Ahmed.
Bernicat is scheduled to leave Dhaka on Friday completing her tenure in Bangladesh.
The video features an original song by famous Bangladeshi composer Fuad Almuqtadir.
Prominent Bangladeshi filmmaker Amitabh Reza Chowdhury directed the video.
This special video can be viewed on the US Embassy Dhaka Facebook page and on the US Embassy Dhaka YouTube channel.
It features timely information about the Bangladesh-US bilateral relationship, as well as information on US society, culture and values, opportunities to study in the United States,and live chats with embassy officials and subject matter experts on topics including visas.
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.