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Asia and the Pacific
Western Asia

Bangladesh - January 2024

Sheikh Hasina secures fourth straight term in general election
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On 7 January, Sheikh Hasina secured her fourth consecutive term as prime minister when her party, the Awami League (AL), won 223 of 300 parliamentary seats. Independent candidates, most of them allied to AL won 62 seats, while the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted the vote. The Chief Election Commissioner reported voter turnout was 40.99 per cent, compared with 80.00 per cent in the last election in 2018. Preliminary results indicate that despite a record high 5.1 per cent of female candidates, only 20 out of 299 contested seats were won by women (a decrease from 22 in 2018), with an additional 50 reserved seats for women to be determined in March. The election was marred by violence and repression of opposition candidates and supporters in the lead-up to and on election day. Voting irregularities were reported across several polling centres, causing voting there to be postponed. Independent election monitors from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) noted that the elections were “neither genuine nor competitive.”  

Sources: ANFREL (1), ANFREL (2), The Dhaka Tribune, IPU, Bangladesh Parliament, Reuters

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus convicted in labour law case
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On 1 January, a Dhaka court sentenced Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and three other officials of Grameen Telecom to six months imprisonment for violating labour laws, after they were found guilty of failing to create a welfare fund for their workers. Political analysts consider the conviction as politically motivated, aimed at discrediting Yunus, who once was considered a political rival to the government. Yunus faces more than 100 other charges for labour law violations and alleged graft. The verdict comes after 170 global figures signed a letter in August 2023 calling for an end to the “continuous judicial harassment” of Yunus. In January, global leaders proposed an independent legal review of the case. The government has said that no one is above the law and had in previous months urged international experts to reassess the legal proceedings. On 28 January, the tribunal granted bail for the four convicted, and stayed the lower court’s verdict until 3 March. Human rights groups have criticized the speedy trial, with UN special rapporteur Irene Khan describing the conviction as a “travesty of justice.” 

Sources:  BBC News, Deutsche Welle, Amnesty International South Asia, The Daily Star (1), The Daily Star (2)

Primary categories and factors
Rights 0 Rights  (0)
Access to Justice
Rule of Law 0 Rule of Law  (0)
Judicial Independence

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