US concerned on factory tragedies, political unrest

April 30, 2013

The United States has expressed concern over recent tragedies in factories in Bangladesh as well as political violence and reported rights abuse by members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
The concern was expressed by US Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Eileen C Donahoe during the hearing on human rights issues in Bangladesh under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism in Geneva on Monday.
“We appreciate the government’s willingness to address worker safety and rights, but remain concerned by the recent tragedies in factories. Concrete steps should be taken to improve worker conditions and remove barriers to fundamental labour rights,” she said.
“We remain concerned by recent political violence, and reported rights violations by members of the Rapid Action Battalion. A climate of impunity in the security forces continues to enable such abuses,” she added.
The Ambassador recommended relevant authorities be fully trained and equipped to enforce laws on occupational safety and health as well as the right to organise and bargain collectively. Her recommendations also include investigation of allegations of human rights violations by security force members and holding perpetrators accountable.
Donahoe also called for granting permission and access to aid agencies to provide humanitarian assistance to Rohingya and others in the Bangladesh-Burma border region.
She also said, “We commend promotion of women’s participation in government and appreciate the National Human Rights Commission’s acknowledgement that all individuals, including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) individuals, should be protected from discrimination. Welcoming the regional engagement on a solution for the Rohingya, the Ambassador said that US was yet concerned that aid agencies providing assistance along the border with Burma have faced operational difficulties from authorities.

-With The Independent input

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