Ban Ki-moon urges Bangladesh to respect UN expert’s human rights

Human rights Special Rapporteur Sigma Huda

17 July 2007 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Bangladesh to respect the “full range of human rights” – including the right to a fair trial and rights relating to detention conditions during the trial – of a United Nations independent expert who is facing a criminal trial in the South Asian country on corruption charges.

Sigma Huda, a Bangladeshi national, was appointed as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons in April 2004.

The 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations states that Special Rapporteurs “enjoy the privileges and immunities necessary for the independent exercise of their functions as experts on mission,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The Convention stipulates that States must alert the Secretary-General if they wish to initiate legal proceedings against these experts.

“Regrettably, the Government of Bangladesh did not do so in this case,” Mr. Ban said.

After requesting and receiving information from Bangladesh on the nature of the charges brought against Ms. Huda and their linkages to her functions as Special Rapporteur, the Secretary-General has concluded that she is not being tried on charges related to her work as a UN independent expert.

Therefore, “no immunity under the Convention is applicable in the present case,” he said.

Mr. Ban noted the UN’s firm commitment to aid countries in thwarting corruption, but urged the Government to act consistently with its international human rights obligations in conducting the trial against Ms. Huda.

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