PERTH, AUSTRALIA - It was a bad year for Canada’s Commonwealth cousin, Bangladesh, when it comes to human rights.
As Human Rights Watch noted in its annual report, “extrajudicial executions and torture continued, as well as impunity for members of the security forces. The government mounted sustained attacks on the right to freedom of expression of the media and political opposition. Labor union activists protesting for higher wages were systematically targeted and, in some cases, arrested and jailed on trumped-up charges.”
And yet, despite that indictment, Bangladesh has one of nine seats on a Commonwealth body given new powers over the weekend here to police human rights violations among other Commonwealth members.
When I asked Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma Sunday about the absurdity of such an appointment, he blithely dismissed concerns of impropriety and, in fact, even suggested I was off my rocker for even raising the issue.
“I do not feel that it is fair to isolate one country and start discussing what the issues may be,” he said.