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UN denies immunity to rights expert accused of corruption in Bangladesh

[JURIST] The office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Wednesday denied UN immunity from prosecution [press release] to a UN human rights investigator in Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] who is charged with corruption. UN Special Rapporteur Sigma Huda [official profile, DOC] was jailed [JURIST report] earlier this month after being charged as part of a government crackdown on corruption [JURIST news archive]. Prosecutors allege Huda assisted her husband, former Bangladeshi communications minister Nazmul Huda, in extorting almost $300,000 USD from a construction company while he was in office. UN experts are generally granted immunity from prosecution under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations [PDF text], but the secretary-general must decide whether it applies to a given situation. Ban said Wednesday that the allegations against Huda "appear not to be related to, or otherwise fall within, her functions as special rapporteur."

Ban also said he expects that the legal proceedings against Huda will "respect the full range of her human rights, including her right to a fair trial." Huda has complained of harassment and imprisonment of her family members [press release, DOC] at the hands of the Bangladeshi government. Reuters reported that a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] said Huda has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Reuters has more. The UN News Service has additional coverage.

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