Paris-Geneva, 14 September 2023 - After ten years of relentless judicial harassment, Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, two prominent human rights defenders in Bangladesh, have been sentenced to two years in prison today. Their conviction is based on politically motivated charges and aims to intimidate human rights activists in the country. FIDH and the OMCT, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, strongly condemn their conviction and call for their immediate and unconditional release.
Today, the Cyber Tribunal of Dhaka sentenced Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of the human rights organisation Odhikar, as well as FIDH Secretary General and a member of the OMCT General Assembly, and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, Director of Odhikar, to two years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 10 000 takab (approximately 85 Euros) each, on charges of “publishing false images and information” and “disrupting the law and order situation of the country”. Right after the hearing, the two human rights defenders were remanded to Dhaka Central Jail prison. Messrs Khan and Elan’s lawyers are planning to appeal the ruling once the court issues the written judgement, which could take months.
“We are appalled by the conviction of our friends and colleagues Adil and Elan, two highly esteemed and fearless activists whose only fault is to have worked tirelessly for years for the defence of fundamental rights in Bangladesh. Every day they spend detained for this exact reason is one day too many. We call for their immediate release,” said Alice Mogwe, FIDH President.
The latest episode of an ongoing judicial harassment
In August 2013, following the publication of a fact-finding report issued by Odhikar in May 2013 on the killing of civilians by security forces, Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan were arbitrarily detained for 62 and 25 days, respectively, before being released on bail. Since then, they have been subjected to continuous judicial harassment, with Bangladeshi courts repeatedly rejecting their motions without substantial legal grounds, prosecuting witnesses without the consent of the defendants’ counsel or without leaving them enough time to prepare for a cross-examination, in clear violation of the internationally recognised right to a fair trial. Over the years, Messrs Khan and Elan, as well as Odhikar have been subjected to smear campaigns, criticised, and demonised by the government for their human rights work. The renewal of Odhikar’s registration was denied in June 2022.
“It is not those who denounce murders who should be punished, but those who commit them. Today, Adil and Elan - two of the most remarkable people I have ever met, were unjustly sentenced for exposing killings. The culprits are still free. As a lawyer, it pains me to see that this justice system has forgotten its mission and chosen to become an executioner” said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.
For more information:
- FIDH : Maxime Duriez : +33 6 48 05 91 57 | email@example.com
- OMCT : Claire-Marie Germain : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Urgent Interventions
Bangladesh: Upcoming verdict in the case of Adilur Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan
Bangladesh: Human rights defenders targeted for political reasons
Bangladesh: Stop targeting Odhikar and its leadership