19/10/2022: New death threats against Shahanur Islam, lawyer and human rights defender, particularly focused on the defence of LGBT rights.
BANGLADESH: New death threats against Shahanur Islam, lawyer, human rights defender particularly focused on the defence of LGBT rights.
19 October 2022
Recently, Shahanur Islam, a Bangladeshi lawyer known for his human rights work, has suffered ongoing death threats against him and his family with impunity.
On 25 August 2022 Mr Islam received a threatening message in english on his phone from an unidentified number. The message threatened to kill the lawyer and his family if he continued to fight for LGBT rights in Bangladesh. On 8 September 2022, a new threatening text message was received by the lawyer.
On 6 October 2022, Saidul Islam, a transgender person and cousin of the lawyer, was kidnapped by several people in Kolabazar, Naogaon district. During the attack, the lawyer was threatened to withdraw his complaint against, among others, Jahurul Islam, the state representative in the district, who was accused of assaulting the lawyer.
The OIAD strongly condemns these threats against lawyer Shahanur Islam and his family.
The OIAD recalls the authorities of Bangladesh that the independence of the legal profession is one of the main indicators of democratic health and the consolidation of the rule of law. This is in line with the provisions of the UN Principles on the Role of Lawyers. (1990):
“Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference;” (Principle 16)
“Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.” (Principle 17)
9 September 2020
Shahanur Islam is a human rights activist lawyer working for ensuring human rights, rule of law, social justice and good governance in Bangladesh. He is the Secretary General and Honorary Executive Director of the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), as well as a member of numerous human rights organisation such as Amnesty International and International Network to Promote Rule of Law. Due to his vital role for the protection and promotion of human rights and criminal justice in Bangladesh, he was the recipient of the Asia Justice Makers Fellowship-2010, awarded by International Bridges to Justice (IBJ).
On August 26th, 2020 Shahanur Islam was attacked in court by the opposite party own son and 10 to 12 others criminals. He was beaten up and hit to the head resulting grievously bloody injured under left eye and frontal side of the head. Shahanur was rescued by lawyers who witness the assault and was then admitted to a hospital for primary treatment.
Shahanur Islam was taking part in a hearing against Jahurul Islam, a member of Parishad District (the highest unit of local government at the district level) and a political leader. The hearing is part of a long case between Shahanur Islam and Jahurul Islam, which began in late 2018 when the latter made false allegations against Shahanur Islam and two other members of his family.
Furthermore, one should add that Jahurul Isalm is charged in five to six ongoing criminal cases.
It is not the first time Shahanur Islam receives death threats or is attacked because of his work. He fears for his safety and that of his family as his assaulters are not yet arrested.
The OIAD expresses its support to our colleague Shahanur Islam.
The OIAD would like to remind the Bangladesh’s authorities that under the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):
“Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference […]” (Principle 16).
“Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities” (Principle 17).