Bangladesh dismayed by UK report on Khaleda

Summons British envoy

Diplomatic Correspondent

12 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh government has expressed dismay over a misleading report released by the British government on former Prime Minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Sunday summoned British Acting High Commissioner Javed Patel to convey the government's views and disappointment with certain issues mentioned in the Bangladesh chapter of the Human Rights and Democracy Report 2020 released by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) last Thursday.

It was clarified to the British envoy that on the application of Begum Zia's brother, the government had - as per the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 - suspended her prison sentence and 'released' her in March 2020 on condition that she would receive medical treatment at home and would not travel abroad, said a statement from the MoFA.

It was pointed out that the suspension of her sentence and release from prison, applicable for an initial six-month period, were subsequently extended twice in September 2020 and in March 2021.

The Acting High Commissioner was also told that it would be advisable to consult the government authorities concerned in case of any confusion over such a legal issue.

It was further suggested that any official document of the UK government also refrains from using any form of insinuating and misleading statements about the government of Bangladesh or the ruling party, Bangladesh Awami League, said it reads.

From the government's side, concerns were also raised over the use of the number of Rohingyas now temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh.

Officials at the ministry reiterated the government's position on certain terminologies used in the report in reference to Bangladesh that are either not internationally agreed upon or not recognised by Bangladesh's own laws.

Javed Patel took note of the government's views and assured of conveying those to FCDO authorities.

He said that the UK valued its diversified partnership with Bangladesh, and wished to continue a constructive dialogue on human rights and governance issues through the established mechanisms.

Recognising Bangladesh as a 'maturing democracy', he said the UK government did not take sides with or against any political party of the country, the MoFA said.

The officials on both sides agreed on the importance of using authentic sources of information for citations in official documents or reports. From the Foreign Office, Director General (West Europe and EU) interacted with the British High Commission officials.