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CWA Urges Bangladesh to Release Trafficking Diplomat From House Arrest

Contact: Jennifer Fedor, Concerned Women for America, 202-488-7000 ext. 126

WASHINGTON, June 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- Sigma Huda, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, since 2004, has been prevented from leaving Bangladesh to carry out her responsibilities because the government views her as a "security risk" and fears that she might make statements that would be detrimental to the caretaker government of Bangladesh.  Her detention amounts to a "house arrest" and prevents her from carrying out the responsibilities of her position to protect the human rights of trafficking victims.  After four failed attempts to leave the country to attend official meetings in New York, Belarus and Sweden, she was informed of the restraining order against her, and her petitions to continue her travels were denied.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Director and Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's (CWA) Beverly LaHaye Institute and CWA's expert in anti-trafficking efforts, said, "Sigma Huda provides an international voice for those women and children who are victimized and exploited by criminals who use human beings as commodities and profit from the odious modern day slave trade.  Efforts to censor her reports or to curtail her work is a crime against human rights and violates the immunity that she receives as a United Nations' diplomat commissioned to protect some of the most vulnerable people around the world."

Crouse added, "CWA calls on President Bush -- who is at the forefront in fighting trafficking in persons and who calls such trafficking 'modern day slavery' -- to use his credibility on the issue of sex trafficking to enlist the other leaders who are attending the G8 meeting in Germany to urge the caretaker government of Bangladesh to free Miss Huda to fulfill her responsibilities as Special Rapporteur.  CWA also calls on the United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to use the authority of the United Nations to ensure that its Special Rapporteur is able to carry out her duties without harassment or interference."

Crouse concluded, "Bangladesh is endangering its already marginal status regarding human trafficking.  They should back down immediately, before completely destroying any hope of credibility regarding their commitment to preventing and combating trafficking."

Concerned Women for America is the nation's largest public policy women's organization.