UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] condemned [press release] the government of Bangladesh on Wednesday for the killing of suspected drug offenders by security forces in the country.
The High Commissioner responded to reports that 130 individuals had been killed in three weeks and thousands arrested after the government proclaimed a zero-tolerance policy regarding the drug trade. The High Commissioner was concerned by the government’s public message claiming that the individuals killed were not innocent and that “mistakes can occur in an anti-narcotics drive.” He also showed concern for how the policy affects vulnerable individuals in communities who fear being arrested or killed for seeking treatment for drug use.
Zeid called on the government to review the incidents and hold human rights violators accountable. He emphasized that “investigations will need to be independent, impartial, transparent and effective.”
Zeid’s statements echo similar criticism [press release] of the Philippines’s government activities [JURIST report] this past year under President Duterte’s regime. The stance of the UN rights office remains that “Every person has the right to life. People do not lose their human rights because they use or sell drugs. The presumption of innocence and the right to due process must be at the forefront of any efforts to tackle crimes.”