Sigma Huda, the UN Special Rapporteur Against Trafficking in Persons, has been restrained by Bangladeshi authorities from leaving the country to perform her duties as UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking.

In another act of censorship, the secretariat of the Human Rights Council has prevented the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) from presenting the facts of Sigma Huda's repression and the detention and torture of her family members in Bangladesh to the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

On May 15, Sigma Huda was detained by Bangladeshi authorities from boarding her plane at the Dhaka airport to perform her UN duties at international meetings at the UN New York and Geneva. On May 16, she attempted to board another plane but was again detained by Bangladeshi authorities who informed her that the court had issued a restraining order against her leaving the country. This order is a direct infringement of not only Sigma Huda's right to freedom of movement and expression but also a violation of her diplomatic privileges as a UN human rights expert.

Bangladeshi authorities allege that Sigma Huda has been accused and will be charged under the anti-corruption provisions of the military-backed caretaker government in Bangladesh. The military says it took control to clean up corruption in politics. However, this government has reportedly arrested over 200,000 people - many of them former politicians, human rights activists and indigenous peoples, and harassed and tortured others. Human rights groups contend that at least 100 persons have been murdered since January, 2007.

"Janice Raymond, Co-Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), has been in constant contact with UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking, Sigma Huda. She alleges that the government fears that Special Rapporteur Huda will discredit the military-backed government abroad and spotlight its recent human rights abuses in detaining and torturing hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis. In addition to preventing Sigma Huda from leaving the country, government authorities have arrested and jailed her husband, tortured her brother-in-law and harassed her daughter.»

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women calls upon the Human Rights Council to oblige Bangladesh, one of its members, «to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights...» CATW also calls upon Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon," to press the government of Bangladesh to lift its restrictions against Special Rapporteur, Sigma Huda, and comply with its international obligations.»

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