Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Bangladesh endure judicial harassment, arbitrary arrest, fabricated charges, abduction, physical attacks, torture and extrajudicial killings. Human rights violations against HRDs are committed by both state and non-state actors including corporations, impunity remains one of the most serious issues of concern, particularly as fatal attacks on human rights defenders and journalsits become increasingly common.
Police and armed gangs have assaulted dozens of journalists in recent years. In 2012 alone, three journalists were murdered and 19 were physically attacked. Female journalists have been particularly vulnerable: many of them have been sexually harassed and assaulted, including at the workplace. In the vast majority of cases, these violations went unpunished. In the first eight months of 2015, four bloggers were killed. One of the victims had previously expressed fear of an attack, and said his reports of threats were ignored by police.
Restrictive legislation also poses a threat to the work of human rights defenders in Bangladesh. The Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Act 2014, which was approved by the Cabinet in 2014 and is currently before the Parliament, increases government control of civil society and restricts funding. The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Act of 2006 (ammended in 2013) is used to silence human rights defenders and block websites with content deemed sensitive by the authorities.