Nation this week
The government cancelled the operating licence of one of the country's most respected human rights groups, Odhikar, accusing it of tarnishing the country's image, among other things, and prompting a chorus of condemnation from rights advocates. Led by Adilur Rahman Khan, a recipient of the RFK Centre's Human Rights Award, Odhikar has been documenting human rights violations in Bangladesh since 1994, working closely with United Nations bodies. It recorded thousands of extrajudicial killings by security forces as well as enforced disappearances perpetrated by the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and other law enforcement agencies.
The United States in December imposed sanctions on RAB and seven officers, including the serving IGP, over rights abuses including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Odhikar shared an order issued by the NGO Affairs Bureau, that regulates charities, saying the government had rejected its application to renew its registration. The group had published "misleading information about various extrajudicial killings, including alleged disappearances and murders", the document said.
Sumon Shikder Musa, the alleged mastermind of the sensational murder of a city Awami League leader, Jahidul Islam Tipu, in late March during which college student Samia Afran Jamal Prity was also killed, was brought back to Bangladesh by a flight from Oman. Musa is an accused in 11 cases, including ones filed for murder and possession of illegal firearms. He was convicted in one of the cases, but managed to leave the country for Dubai on March 12, before the murder of Tipu was set to take place.
Musa entered Oman from the UAE on May 8. He made several calls to some businessmen close to the slain Tipu and asked them for money early last month. Bangladesh police were able to trace his Oman number during these calls. It then shared the number with Omani police through Interpol. Tracking this number, Oman police arrested him in May and the formalities for his extradition were completed this week.
The Asian Development Bank approved a $250 million policy-based loan to support Bangladesh's social protection reforms as well as to protect vulnerable populations against socioeconomic challenges. This is the second sub-programme of the Strengthening Social Resilience Programme, the Manila-based lender said. This loan will also build on the first subprogram, which implemented institutional and policy reforms and strengthened the inclusiveness and responsiveness of social protection in Bangladesh, according to the statement.
"The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need to strengthen social protection systems to help people cope and manage disasters and crises," said ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist for South Asia Hiroko Uchimura-Shiroishi. Under the new programme, the ADB is supporting the government in strengthening reforms to improve social protection coverage and efficiency, deepen the financial inclusion of disadvantaged people and strengthen the response to diversified protection needs. Subprogram 2 also helps to improve efficiency by digitalisation and integration of systems as well as harmonisation of government programmes.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court dismissed a petition of real estate company Concord Group, pleading to review its order that had upheld a High Court judgment to hand over an 18-storey tower in Azimpur to Sir Salimullah Muslim Orphanage. A bench headed by Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique passed the order. According to the writ petition, in 1909 the then Nawab of Dhaka established the orphanage. It was extended later through leasing of land and run by successive governments.
It thus upheld the High Court judgement from 2016 that directed the government authorities to constitute an effective managing committee to run the administration and management of the orphanage and to protect, maintain and improve its properties. The HC declared illegal the government's inaction to protect its property leased out to the orphanage and the transfer of the land to the developer under the influence of the president and secretary of the orphanage's managing committee.
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