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False charges against human rights defender Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury

Status: 
Arrested & Charged
About the situation

On 6 September 2018 Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury was arrested by police from his home on the basis of false extortion charges. The human rights defender is currently detained and a request for one day’s remand for interrogation has been granted by a Dhaka court.

About Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury

Mozammel Hoque ChowdhuryMozammel Hoque Chowdhury is a human rights defender and Secretary-General of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, a platform which works to ensure passengers’ rights by documenting road accidents and denouncing irregularities and poor administration of the transport sector in Bangladesh.

17 September 2018
Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury released from Jail

On 13 September 2018, Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury was released from jail, hours after a Metropolitan Magistrate in Dhaka rejected a police petition seeking to prolong the human rights defender's arrest under the Explosive Substances Act. He was released from Dhaka Central Jail in Keranigani at around 8:30pm.

In the release order, the Magistrate said that no concrete reason was given for the initial arrest of Mozzamel Hoque Chowdhury as the police had filed the case over seven months after the alleged incident had taken place.

On 6 September 2018, Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury was arrested by police from his home on the basis of false extortion charges. He was granted bail in this case on 11 September but was not released. Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury from prison.

7 September 2018
False charges against human rights defender Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury

On 6 September 2018 Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury was arrested by police from his home on the basis of false extortion charges. The human rights defender is currently detained and a request for one day’s remand for interrogation has been granted by a Dhaka court.

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Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury is a human rights defender and Secretary-General of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, a platform which works to ensure passengers’ rights by documenting road accidents and denouncing irregularities and poor administration of the transport sector in Bangladesh.

On 6 September 2018, at approximately 3:00 a.m., Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury was arrested by police from his house in Sanarpar, Narayanganj, on the basis of false extortion charges which had been made against him. The charges relate to a complaint lodged on 4 September 2018 by Mohammed Dulal, who claimed to be the Secretary of Mirpur Road Workers’ Committee. Mohammed Dulal complained that the defender had attempted to extort him into paying Tk 200,000 (approximately €2,000), under threat of the publication of misleading reports against the complainant and his organisation.

The report filed against the human rights defender states that the complainant handed the defender TK 10,000 (approximately €100) towards the amount allegedly requested, in front of Sony Cinema Hall in Mirpur on 3 September 2018. The Officer-in-Charge of Mirpur Police Station stated that police carried out a preliminary investigation and took three witness statements claiming that this incident took place. However, there is dispute over the identity of the complainant, as attempts to call the phone number included in the complaint have been unsuccessful, and, upon visiting the address provided, local reporters were informed that no person named Mohammed Dulal lived there. Transport workers in the area have also stated that they are not aware of a person called Mohammed Dulal, or the organisation that he claimed to represent.

The same day that Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury was arrested, a Dhaka court placed the human rights defender under one day’s remand for interrogation, rejecting his petition for bail. The investigating officer in the case had initially petitioned the Court for seven days’ remand. If the defender does not receive bail, he will remain in detention.

Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury’s family members and members of his organisation believe that the charges against the defender have been fabricated in order to silence his critical voice. The defender’s arrest comes just days before the proposed Road Transport Act 2018 is due to be introduced to parliament. Critics of the Act say that, rather than serving the public interest, it is designed to benefit transport owners and the government.

Front Line Defenders is concerned over the false charges and judicial harassment against Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury as it believes that they are a result of his peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights.