UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet due Sunday

The government says it looks forward to having a constructive dialogue during her visit

| Updated: August 13, 2022 20:49:09

Michelle Bachelet Michelle Bachelet

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will conduct an official visit to Bangladesh from Sunday to Wednesday, upon the invitation of the government of Bangladesh.

The Office of The High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday said this visit will be the first official visit by a UN Human Rights Chief to the country.

During her visit to Dhaka, the high commissioner is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other ministers.

She will also meet with the National Human Rights Commission, representatives of civil society organisations and other stakeholders. In addition, Bachelet will deliver a speech at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies.

The high commissioner will also travel to Cox’s Bazar where she will be able to visit camps housing Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and meet with refugees, officials and non-governmental organisations.

Bachelet will hold a news conference in Dhaka at the end of her mission on Wednesday.

UNB said in a report that she would also pay homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on August 15.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka said, "Bangladesh as a responsible and responsive Member State of the UN, looks forward to having a constructive dialogue with the High Commissioner for the promotion and protection of human rights, with the view to continue and further enhance ongoing close engagement and cooperation of Bangladesh with the UN Human Rights mechanism."

"Bangladesh has been closely working with the UN in the field of human rights; and this visit would be an important occasion to highlight Bangladesh’s national perspective and the Government’s sincere efforts to protect and promote the human rights of the people, including through updating the domestic legal framework, creating awareness and sensitising the implementing agencies," MoFA said.

"This is indeed important that the national context, in particular the economic development amidst the pandemic and other evolving crises, the maintenance of peace and security of the people, and constraints like the Rohingya crisis and the adverse effect of climate change, are taken into due consideration in assessing the human rights situation of the country," it said.

Bangladesh strongly hopes that the Chief of UN human rights chief would witness by herself how the country is doing miracles to keep on track their development journey; integrating human rights into it.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, no one in the country has died of starvation, said the government.

"Bangladesh, a country of 165 million, could afford to provide almost a million homes to the homeless. Over 10 million families are receiving basic food and essential supplies under its social security protection programme," MoFA said.

Bangladesh is promoting basic human rights like the right to food, the right to accommodation, the right to development etc. for the people, it mentioned.

"No one is getting killed either in shopping malls, schools or worship places in Bangladesh," MoFA said.

It strongly rejected what it says are some visible "politically motivated efforts" of some corners to mislead the people by showcasing the visit as an occasion to "put undue pressure" on the government.

"The government of Bangladesh firmly believes that politicisation of the human rights agenda never helps in promoting and protecting human rights of the people; and therefore, sincere dialogue and cooperation is the pathway," said the ministry.

Earlier, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said: "We are eagerly waiting for the visit. She will see the progress of Bangladesh on the rights front and will also be able to know about the challenges facing it."

"They (PM Hasina and Bachelet) are very good friends," the state minister said, adding that they have experience in working together.

She will also try to understand how climate change is affecting the human rights situation in Bangladesh.

Bachelet was elected president of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018). She was the first female president of the country.

She recently indicated that she would not seek a second term for personal reasons as her term as high commissioner draws to a close.

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