Statement on harassment against Bangladesh lawyer Shahanur Islam
Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the continued harassment of Bangladeshi lawyer Shahanur Islam. Lawyers for Lawyers has strong reasons to believe Mr Islam is being targeted for his work to defend the rights of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities in his capacity as a lawyer and human rights defender.
Mr Islam is a lawyer and human rights defender known for advocating for members of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities in Bangladesh. He has advised and represented, amongst others, victims of torture and extrajudicial killings and has provided support to indigenous peoples, victims of child marriage or domestic abuse and sexual minorities in Bangladesh since 2008. Mr Islam has worked for and with Plan International, USAID, Amnesty International and in recent years has co-founded Justice Makers Bangladesh, which offers support to minorities.
Due to his human rights work, Mr Islam has faced several instances of harassment over the years. Most recently, Mr Islam and his family members are faced with intimidation and death threats related to his work advising and representing sexual minorities in Bangladesh.
Lawyers for Lawyers respectfully urges the government of Bangladesh to:
- Ensure that Mr Islam is able to perform his professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, threats, violence or harassment;
- Investigate, without undue delay, thoroughly and transparently all threats, intimidation and use of violence against Mr Islam and to bring to justice any perpetrators of such crimes in proceedings that respect international fair trial guarantees;
- Drop any and all charges against Mr Islam, unless and insofar sufficient credible evidence is presented without delay in proceedings that comply with international fair trial guarantees; and
- Ensure that all lawyers and human rights defenders in Bangladesh are able to carry out their legitimate professional activities without fear of reprisals and free of undue interference.
The full statement can be found here.