The UK has said Bangladesh continued to play a vital role in hosting a significant number of Rohingya people noting that there was "no improvement" in the overall human rights situation in Bangladesh in 2019.
Bangladesh maintained its commitment to the voluntary, safe, and dignified return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar, according to the Human Rights and Democracy: The 2019 Foreign and Commonwealth Office report released on Thursday.
Rohingyas are the world’s largest population of stateless people displaced by the actions of the Tatmadaw (the Myanmar army).
There were reports of significant criminality in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, where approximately 855,000 Rohingya refugees are living, the report mentioned in its Bangladesh part.
These included murder (around 30 cases), gender-based violence, abduction, illegal drug trading, and human trafficking.
The government introduced additional police stations, fences around the camps, and limited night-time patrols by mixed security forces, the UK report mentioned.
In September, the government introduced restrictions on access to the internet in the camps, citing security concerns following a peaceful rally in the Kutupalong camp on 25 August, a number of violent incidents and increased tension with host communities, said the report.
To help manage the protracted Rohingya crisis, the UK committed an additional £117 million, delivered through UN agencies and NGOs, prioritising the protection of rights, including essential documentation, child protection, anti-trafficking measures, case management for survivors of abuse and exploitation, and legal assistance services.
The total UK commitment since August 2017 stood at £256 million.
The UK supported Bangladesh and other partners to enable the presence of Rohingya refugees at the International Court of Justice hearings on Myanmar in December.
More broadly in Bangladesh, UK programme funds supported projects addressing human rights priorities including modern slavery (female migrant workers’ rights); democratic governance (indigenous people’s inclusion); freedom of expression (research on the DSA and digital advocacy); and media freedom, according to the report.
The ruling Awami League and its allies returned to power in December 2018, winning 96% of parliamentary seats.
The number of death sentences issued increased, and at least two executions were carried out.
Throughout the year, UK ministers met opposition politicians, media representatives, and indigenous leaders, and in April the then Minister for Asia, Mark Field, raised human rights concerns with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said the UK report.
Under the 2018 Digital Security Act (DSA), 42 people were arrested, often on charges of hurting religious sentiment, or undermining law and order, said the report.
The provisions of the DSA were criticised as empowering the government to arrest and detain journalists, human rights activists, and political opponents.
In July, Bangladesh submitted its initial country report to the UN Committee Against Torture on measures it had taken to uphold its commitments under the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
Bangladesh’s engagement with the Committee, the first time since its accession to UNCAT in 1998, was welcomed.
Gender-based violence remained a concern, highlighted by the murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a female madrassah student who complained to the police about harassment by her principal according to the report.
Women habitually are harassed in public, making travelling on foot or public transport difficult, it said.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Thursday said that a framework for national qualifications will be formed to ensure skills across all different streams of education in the country.
The minister came up with the remarks while attending an online meeting on competitive challenges of post Covid-19 period organized jointly by Daffodil family and A2i.
Different streams of education including technical, madrasa, English medium and Bangla medium are available in the country, she noted. “But in every stream students must gather some compulsory skills.”
Sometimes targets are fulfilled but students are not obtaining necessary skills under the current education system, the minister said.
“We are emphasizing on technical and vocational education along with mainstream education,” she said, adding that everyone doesn’t need a university degree.
Currently, nearly 3.7 million cases are waiting to be disposed of at the courts, including the Supreme Court.
The information was revealed in a statement sent by Supreme Court spokesman and special officer Barrister Mohammad Saifur Rahman on Wednesday.
Despite taking various initiatives to reduce case backlogs, the number of cases in the country is increasing day by day.
The number of pending cases across the country stood at 36,84,728 as of December 31.
Till December 31, 2017, the number of cases pending in the country was 33,09,789.
According to the statistics sent by the Supreme Court, as of December 31, 2019, there are 23,617 cases pending in the Appellate Division and 4, 89,068 in the High Court division.
The number of cases pending in the subordinate courts is 31,72,043.
Meanwhile, between January and December last year, 9,478 cases have been filed with the Appellate Division and 6,303 have been disposed of.
Besides, In the High Court Division, 1,07, 568 cases have been filed. Among them, 1,35,275 cases have been settled during this period.
At that time 14, 28,724 cases have been filed with the subordinate courts and 10,24,357 cases have been disposed of.
Statistics also showed that the number of settled cases is higher than the number of those filed in the High Court alone.
In addition, the number of cases is increasing as the number of cases disposed of is less than the number of filed cases in the subordinate courts.
A five-member probe body has been formed to investigate an allegation of providing fake coronavirus test report at Khulna Medical College Hospital (KMCH).
The committee has been asked to submit their report within three working days, said Deputy Commissioner Helal Hossain.
The lift man of KMCH allegedly provided fake ‘Covid-19 negative’ reports to two patients. Besides, test reports of different patients were allegedly moved around to fraudulently avail government aid.
Probe body convener Additional District Magistrate Md Yusuf Ali said the accused are all low ranking staff.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Thursday introduced Value Added Tax (VAT) e-payment system aiming to simplify the VAT return submission process.
NBR chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem inaugurated the VAT e-payment system at the conference room of the NBR.
Muneem said that the VAT Online Project is an important project for NBR. He mentioned that through this a step has been taken to introduce Integrated VAT Administration System (IVAS).
Of the 16 modules of the IVAS, three modules - registration, return and Taxpayers' Account - have been implemented, while the rest of the modules will be implemented gradually.
Some 166,720 taxpayers have taken their Business Identification Number (BIN) through online. More than 42,000 taxpayers have submitted their VAT returns since its inception from October 2019.
The NBR chairman said that this module will help the country to improve its position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.
He said that initially the taxpayers will be able to submit all their tax payments (VAT, Turnover Tax, Supplementary Duty, fine, interest and others) through Prime Bank, Midland Bank and HSBC. By the end of this year, all banks will be connected with this system.
NBR Officials said that through this system, after paying the VAT, a copy of that Chalan will be sent to Bangladesh Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and respective VAT office automatically. One copy will also be sent to the organisation concerned.
By using this system the enlisted person would be able to pay his/her VAT and supplementary duty directly from that person's bank account easily, risk free and quickly to the national exchequer.
NBR officials said that there will be no hassle for the taxpayers in this system.
Earlier since September, the NBR started accepting VAT returns online, but there was no scope to submit the VAT payment through online.
CAG Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, senior secretary Financial Institutions Division of the Finance Ministry M Asadur Islam, Finance Division Secretary of the Finance Ministry Abdur Rouf Talukder, Petrobangla chairman ABM Abdul Fattah, Bangladesh Bank executive Humayun Kabir, NBR member (VAT Policy) M Masud Sadiq, NBR member (VAT implementation and IT) M Jamal Hossain and VAT Online Project Director Kazi Mostafizur Rahman among others were present in the programme.