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U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 11, 2008
The government’s human rights record worsened, in part due to the state of emergency and postponement of elections. The Emergency Powers Rules of 2007 (EPR), imposed by the government in January and effective through year’s end, suspended many fundamental rights, including freedom of press, freedom of association, and the right to bail. The anticorruption drive initiated by the government, while greeted with popular support, gave rise to concerns about due process. For most of the year the government banned political activities, although this policy was enforced unevenly. While there was a significant drop in the number of extrajudicial killings by security forces, they were accused of serious abuses, including custodial deaths, arbitrary arrest and detention, and harassment of journalists. Some members of security forces acted with impunity and committed acts of physical and psychological torture. Violence against women and children remained a major problem, as was trafficking in persons.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The law establishes Islam as the state religion and also stipulates the right, subject to law, public order, and morality, to practice the religion of one’s choice. The government generally respected this right in practice. Although the government was secular, religion shaped the platforms of certain political parties. Discrimination against members of religious minorities existed at both the governmental and societal level, and religious minorities were disadvantaged in practice in such areas as access to government jobs, political office, and justice.
Government protection of Ahmadiyyas continued to improve although social discrimination continued. The government ban on publishing of Ahmadiyya literature continued to be stayed by the High Court, effectively allowing Ahmadiyyas to publish.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Discrimination against Ahmadiyyas, Hindus, and Christians occurred during the year. However, there were no major demonstrations by anti-Ahmadiyya groups during the year.
In early March police removed an anti-Ahmadiyya signboard from an Ahmadiyya mosque in Khulna, the first such action by police on behalf of the Ahmadiyya community. The signboard read that the building was not a mosque and that the Ahmadiyyas were not Muslims.
On January 11, police recovered 11 unexploded bombs from an Ahmadiyya graveyard in Brahmanbaria. According to human rights organizations, officials forced the cancellation of a March regional Ahmadiyya conference in Panchagarh.
There were no developments concerning the 2005 case of arson and bombings at Ahmadiyya mosques in Nator, Brahhmanbaria, and Bhadugarh.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2007 International Religious Freedom Report.