Govt must respect human rights: US to Bangla

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Dhaka, Sep 20: The US has expressed concern over human rights situation in Bangladesh and urged the interim administration to follow due process of law in dealing with political detainees facing corruption charges.

In a press statement, US deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia John Gastright stressed on the importance of respecting human rights and due legal process during the state of emergency.

''I was frank regarding our concerns about human rights issues and due process for those detained under the state of emergency, whether on corruption charges or accused of other violations of the emergency rules,'' he told mediapersons.

He insisted that secular political parties should be much more engaged with the welfare of the country and ruled out the possibility of emergence of fanatic forces in Bangladesh.

The US diplomat, during his earlier talks with Bangladesh's foreign affairs adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury and foreign secretary Touhid Hossain, expressed Washington's readiness to assist the country in holding ''free, fair and democratic elections'' by 2008 to form a government enjoying ''people's confidence.'' ''The US supports the caretaker government for electoral reforms, foundation for free and fair election, efforts to empower the institutions of sustainable democracy and ultimate goal of holding election to establish a government enjoying people's confidence,'' he said.

Gastright clarified that he was misquoted as saying that the present government should take additional measures to restore democracy as soon as possible.

''The US is not here to dictate, it is here to listen to and see plans the caretaker government is developing to bring democracy for Bangladesh's people,'' he explained.

Asked if the arrest of two former prime ministers would frustrate the spirit of holding free, fair and participatory elections, the US official said, ''US position on arrests of individuals, whether they are former prime ministers or not, is that the government must respect due process and human rights.''

UNI

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