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Democracy and human rights in Bangladesh perspective

Democracy is the best form of government because it is the government of the people.No other
government system can protect the freedom and right of people like democracy.Our beloved
country Bangladesh grabs this system of governance.Democracy is interconnected with human
rights, only democracy can ensure human rights in all countries.If one is eye of human body
,another is head of human body ,these two organs are equally important for human,likewise
democracy and human right are the two important things for the country.Through this term paper
I sought to search the relation between democracy and human rights,detiorating condition of
democracy and human rights in Bangladesh,and how to protect /preserve human rights for

Democracy and human rights are inseparable and they move together in the context of
time,space and dimension. In a democracy, national, regional and international human rights
organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch remain active. Such
organisations draw inspiration from various human rights instruments like the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights
and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950, American Convention on Human Rights, 1969, African
Charter on Human and People's Rights (Banjul Charter), 1981, Istanbul Declaration on Human
Rights following the spirit of OIC. In an atmosphere of democracy human rights have now
become a focal and moot point of development broadly denoting marching forward overcoming
odds and obstacles paying maximum attention to democracy and human rights.

Today democracy follows the dictum: 'no human rights, no democracy ' or 'no democracy', no
human rights (in true sense indeed). No violation of human rights or of democratic order at any
place on earth today goes without a protest globally since the planet has become a global village
with the United Nations (UN) as the main centre of meeting place. Even so, there is no denying
the fact that declaration and protection of human rights are often disregarded and democracy is
exploited to serve the interests of the people at the helm of state power. Ironically enough, those
who are supporters and champions of democracy and human rights today from the opposition
become violators of these in most of the cases tomorrow while in power. Why does it happen?

Constitution, constitutionalism and the rule of law are essential elements of democracy,
signifying government of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy gets
strengthened, consolidated and cemented when human rights are properly adopted, preserved,
protected, maintained and followed both in words and spirit. It is obviously not possible to adopt
and implement overnight all kinds of human rights - political, social, economic - because of the
limitations and constraints of the level and standard of democratic order in a given state. Hence,
the concept of 'fundamental rights' came up to craft a 'roadmap' of human rights. From this very
standpoint, it is said that all fundamental rights are human rights but all human rights are not
fundamental rights because the ambit of human rights is larger and broader than that of
fundamental rights. If one is 'tree' the other is 'branch'.

Malpractices, corruption, misuse and abuse of power, showing disrespect to laws, rules and
regulations not cause havoc to democracy and human rights. Hardly there is any person in
Bangladesh who is not concerned about the deteriorating state of human rights in the country. In
fact, no country - be it the US, the UK, China or India - is immune from the allegation of
violation of human rights.

Interestingly enough, donor countries and organisations have of late tagged human rights as one
of the pre-conditions to approve and release loans. Even disbursement(s) may be held up if the
standard of human rights falls. This is more interesting to see that the United Nation itself, via
UNDP, has emerged as a leading human rights watchdog. The US State Department and a
number of national and international organisations regularly publish annual country-reports on
human rights which have great bearing on the country concerned.

Human rights are broadly reformative in nature given that adoption and implantation are not the
same thing. One is related to policies and initiatives in the form of laws, rules and regulations
while the other calls for putting the same into practice in the face of constraints, limitations and
challenges, structural or non-structural. Fundamental rights are generally enshrined in the
constitution of a state concerned and, today,all the countries in the world make efforts to retain
and preserve these. Today a state is evaluated on the basis of its capabilities and capacities to
absorb and practice human rights. My question is"how much capacity of human rights in our

It is really encouraging to note that Bangladesh is indeed not lagging since the restoration of
parliamentary democracy in 1991. Article 11 of the Constitution of Bangladesh deals with
human rights while Articles 26-47A with fundamental rights. Besides, there are articles, clauses,
sub-clauses, ordinances, by-laws, rules and regulations regarding human rights.

Further, to uphold the democratic process and order a few amendments to the Constitution,
including the Fifth Amendment and the Seventh Amendment, were declared unlawful and void
by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in 2010. The Information Commission, Human Rights
Commission, reshaping and revitalising of Anti-corruption Commission and Right to
Information Act, inter alia, are major initiatives taken recently by the incumbent Sheikh Hasina-
led grand alliance government. But as ill luck would have it, these initiatives have hardly
improved the human rights situation on the ground.

Looking at democracy and human rights from the seat of power and from the seat of opposition
also differs from country to country. In Bangladesh, the same party/ alliance in power behaves in
the most opposite direction and manner while in the opposition and vice versa. Of course, it's a
threat to democracy and human rights. Collectively or singly, all the political parties in
Bangladesh more or less take the burden of unbecoming attitudes to democracy and human

The ongoing confrontational politics based on diametrically opposing stands and approaches of
the two major political parties, the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party
(BNP), has created a serious stalemate causing threats to democracy and human rights.
Continuous boycott of parliament sessions by the opposition and disregard to the opposition by
the ruling party/alliance since the reintroduction of parliamentary democracy through the
Constitution (Twelfth Amendment) Act, 1991 have made parliament ineffective,functionally.

Bangladesh has parliamentary democracy virtually without the presence of opposition in

parliament. It happened in the cases of the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth parliaments and the
situation is the worst in the present ninth parliament.The democracy of Bangladesh similiar to
the cow in book/latter not in reality. We have democracy in name not in work,this kind of
democracy cannot preserve itself, how it can preserve human rights.

The political parties are apparently investing their total efforts and time for devising ways and
means mainly to go to power. Here democracy is being used in a very limited sense because all
the political parties, while in power, hardly make any attempt voluntarily to strengthen the bases
of democracy and human rights. Most of the achievements and successes in these areas were
achieved in the face of people's demand and pressure.

Current efforts should be to untie the nation, not to divide it further because this is the nation
which had fought a nine-month battle against the Pakistani occupation forces and this the nation
which carries on the pride of waging a unique movement to protect its own language. Without a
functioning democracy, it is not possible for Bangladesh to achieve its much-sought prosperity as
widespread corruption now stands in the way of its rapid development.Human rights can be
developed by doing this work.

How will democracy be strengthened and upheld? Is democracy a matter to be dealt and settled
solely by the party/alliance in power? Does opposition in our perspective implies opposing the
government on each and every point irrespective of merit and deficiency? If democracy itself is
at peril then how will human rights be defended and maintained? If human rights cannot be
defended, protected and maintained properly today then how will the ambit of human rights shall
be extended to move with time?

The people of Bangladesh face a Hobson's choice. There is no alternative to constant vigilance
and active participation in the fight for the establishment of democracy and human rights because
road to democracy and human rights are not smooth and easy.

References :
1. The Daily Star, 07/2/2014