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Bangladesh Government Places UN Special Rapporteur for Trafficking Under Equivalent of House Arrest

Trafficking Representative Not Allowed to Fulfill Travel Responsibilities

Contact: Kevin Fahey, Institute on Religion and Public Policy, 202-835-8760, Fahey@religionandpolicy.org


WASHINGTON, June 5 /Christian Newswire/ -- Sigma Huda – United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons , especially in women and children – has been told by the Government of Bangladesh that she is not permitted to travel abroad on the grounds of being a "security risk for Bangladesh as she may give statements detrimental to this Government."

"The detention of Ms. Huda within Bangladesh is a denial by the Government of Bangladesh of her inalienable right to freedom of movement and a direct attack on both the Principles and the institution of the United Nations Organization," commented Institute on Religion and Public Policy President Joseph K. Grieboski. "The false charges brought against Ms. Huda by the 'caretaker government' are indicative of the type of victimization suffered by countless individuals in Bangladesh today."

Sigma Huda was enrolled as Advocate in the year 1970 and has been in active practice ever since as one of the partners of Chancery Chambers, a reputed law firm in Bangladesh with a large multi-national clientele. She is at present the Head of Chambers of the law firm. She has initiated many training and advocacy programmers about the basic laws of the country through the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, the Bangladesh Society for Enforcement of Human Rights and the Institute for Law and Development, such as holding workshops, discussions and seminars at village and district town levels. Sigma Huda has fought against trafficking and sexual exploitation, particularly of women and girls, from Bangladesh to India. In recognition of her work against trafficking, she was appointed to the National Council for Women in Development in Bangladesh, the highest national body for the development of women, by the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. She was a Member and Assistant Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Bangladesh and has been twice elected a Member of the Bangladesh Bar Council – the Apex body created by Statute to enroll lawyers, fix and prepare conditions of enrolment and discipline in legal practice in Bangladesh - for the terms 1995-1998 and 2001-2004. She was a Member of the Bangladesh Labour Law Reform Commission from 1991-1995 and past President of the Centre for the Training and Rehabilitation of Destitute Women (CTRDW), an organization for the protection of pregnant and abandoned women. Sigma has represented Bangladesh in the United Nations General Assembly in 1978 and was allocated to the Third Committee.

Despite having a High Court order permitting her to attend the United Nations both in New York at the Permanent Forum for Indigenous People and the Human Rights Council Session, her official mission visit to Belarus and her attendance at a conference in Lund, Sweden, she was denied exit from Bangladesh by airport authorities under questionable pretenses. On her fourth attempt to depart the country, she was informed of an order by the Chief Justice restraining her for an unlimited period from leaving the country as she is a "security risk."

"Sigma Huda represents the pinnacle of global public service, advocating on behalf of the voiceless and the exploited," continued Mr. Grieboski. "Her illegal and unjust treatment at the hands of the Bangladesh Caretaker Government is a crime against her fundamental rights, a crime against her constitutional rights, and a crime against all those who fight for the victimized and exploited women and children around the world."

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy calls on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President George W. Bush, and all European leaders – especially those gathering in Heiligendamm, Germany, for the G8 meeting – to press the caretaker government of Bangladesh to permit Ms. Huda to carry out her duties as responsibilities as United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children."