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U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,
February 25, 2009
Although levels of violence declined significantly and the caretaker government oversaw successful elections, the government’s human rights record remained a matter of serious concern, in part due to the state of emergency that remained in place for most of the year and the failure to fully investigate extrajudicial killings. The state of emergency, which was relaxed temporarily in advance of local elections in August and finally lifted on December 17, curtailed many fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to bail. The government promulgated the Emergency Powers Rules (EPR) 2007 and Emergency Powers Ordinance 2007 to enforce the state of emergency. The anticorruption drive that the government initiated, while greeted with popular support, gave rise to concerns about fairness and equity under the law. For most of the year the government banned political activities, although this policy was enforced unevenly. There was a decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings by security forces, but they committed serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, 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 serious problem, as did trafficking in persons.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
The constitution 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 levels, 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 High Court continued to stay the government ban on publishing Ahmadiyya literature, effectively allowing Ahmadiyyas to publish.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Discrimination against Ahmadiyyas, Hindus, and Christians occurred during the year. However, there were no demonstrations by anti-Ahmadiyya groups during the year.
On March 15 and March 21, the Special Branch of police in Brahmanbaria prevented groups of Ahamadiyyas from holding a religious convention. Due to intervention by officials at senior levels of the home ministry, both conventions were held.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2008 International Religious Freedom Report.