Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League government dismissed concerns raised by the United Nations, donors, and nongovernmental organizations during 2021 over evidence of extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances by security forces, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2022. The authorities cracked down on activists, journalists, and even children who criticized the government or its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Bangladesh authorities used the Covid-19 pandemic to send a chilling message that criticism of the ruling Awami League will be punished,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Yet journalists, medical workers, and activists were highlighting the barriers to health care that many people across Bangladesh who died from the coronavirus had faced.”
In the 752-page World Report 2022, its 32nd edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. Executive Director Kenneth Roth challenges the conventional wisdom that autocracy is ascendent. In country after country, large numbers of people have recently taken to the streets, even at the risk of being arrested or shot, showing that the appeal of democracy remains strong. Meanwhile, autocrats are finding it more difficult to manipulate elections in their favor. Still, he says, democratic leaders must do a better job of meeting national and global challenges and of making sure that democracy delivers on its promised dividends.