The government of Bangladesh is dedicated to holding free, fair and impartial elections. Bangladesh has a long tradition of conducting democratic elections in a peaceful environment, and the citizens of Bangladesh are certain that this will continue with the upcoming general election. The government of Bangladesh has already taken steps to ensure a free, fair and participatory election. The steps include establishing an independent Election Commission, appointing election commissioners based on a consultative procedure, granting financial and administrative autonomy to the Election Commission, inviting international observers in parliamentary election and registering all eligible voters. In addition, steps have been taken to ensure transparency in polls, ensure freedom of speech and assembly and prevent any form of electoral malpractice.
The Bangladesh government is aware of how crucial it is to safeguard and defend the rights of its entire people when it comes to human rights. Despite obstacles, the government has been making unceasing efforts to enhance the country's human rights condition. There have been steps taken to advance the rule of law, protect fundamental rights and freedoms, and improve the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary system. The nation has advanced significantly in a number of areas, including healthcare, women's empowerment, poverty reduction, and economic and social development. Through its participation in international forums, interaction with civil society organisations and continued partnership with the United Nations and other international partners, the government has demonstrated its commitment to human rights. Additionally, Justice for the victims has been ensured via efforts to look into the infractions and penalise those liable in law enforcement agencies like RAB and police.
In February 2018, Begum Khaleda Zia was found guilty in a corruption case against her. Later, she was granted a temporary release from prison in March 2020 on humanitarian grounds, under a government executive decree, on condition that she would stay at her home in the capital and not leave the country. Regarding Begum Khaleda Zia's case, it is crucial to respect the judiciary's independence and the correct legal process. The government of Bangladesh has often underlined the value of the rule of law and that legal issues should be handled through the proper legal processes. Allowing the legal process to proceed independently and without outside intervention is essential to ensuring a fair and unbiased decision based on the merits of the case.
In terms of poll-time caretaker government, it is important to note that this type of government is unconstitutional according to the present constitution of Bangladesh. In 2011, the 15th constitutional amendment was initiated by the present government of Bangladesh. The amendment ended the practice of caretaker governments and brought back the requirement that general elections be held under the direction of the Election Commission. The desire to facilitate a seamless transition to democracy and worries about its potential for abuse were the main factors behind the decision. Since the caretaker government system was abolished, Bangladesh has successfully conducted every general election under the direction of the Election Commission, with the elected government carrying on functions as usual during the election period. It is believed the people of Bangladesh are no longer in favour of an unconstitutional caretaker government. Some recent elections including Gazipur, Khulna, and Barisal city corporation elections have been marked free and fair by the national and international agencies. The results of the local government elections have undoubtedly reflected the preference of the people of Bangladesh properly. These elections prove that the present Election Commission is competent enough to hold acceptable and fair parliamentary elections.
The government of Bangladesh continues to take an open and inclusive stance towards political activity. It is dedicated to establishing an active political climate that welcomes participation from all significant political parties, especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Today, all political parties regularly schedule meetings and rallies. They are receiving assistance from the law enforcement forces to hold these events. In order to address concerns and find democratic solutions to current challenges, the government has continuously held discussions with political parties. Bangladesh is of the opinion that for Bangladesh to develop and advance, the government and political parties must work constructively together.
Bangladesh's socioeconomic development has received significant help from the EU, and both parties have profited from this partnership. Although the EU has played a significant role in advancing diplomacy, the rule of law, and human rights on a worldwide scale, it is crucial to approach the conversation with Bangladesh in a positive and cooperative way. It would be more efficient to keep cooperating with the authorities, create mutual understanding, and share best practices to address human rights issues rather than implementing restrictive entrance policies and GSP+ incentives. The EU-Bangladesh Joint Commission and Subgroup on Good Governance and Human Rights also provide important platforms for constructive discussion and collaboration. The government is dedicated to collaborating closely with the EU to produce tangible results in the fields of human rights and good governance. Regular information exchange, knowledge sharing, and collaborative activities can result in beneficial and long-lasting reforms that benefit the people of Bangladesh.
In conclusion, Bangladesh is aware of the EU's dedication to advancing international relations, democratic values, the rule of law, and human rights in Bangladesh. Bangladesh believes that these are the most effective means of ensuring Bangladesh's stability and advancement. Bangladesh will hopefully be successful to hold a free and fair parliamentary election maintaining all the criteria of human rights.
The writer is a full-time member
of University Grants Commission
of Bangladesh (UGC)