Deregistration of NGO Odhikar by the Bangladesh authorities is detrimental to human rights work, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
"The authorities in Bangladesh must immediately rescind the decision to arbitrarily deregister the NGO Odhikar and allow the rights group to function without fear of reprisals," the rights organisation said in a statement.
On 5 June, Bangladesh cancelled the renewal of Odhikar's registration accusing it of tarnishing the country's image by publishing "misleading information" on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the country.
"Odhikar's documentation of human right violations have been critical in holding perpetrators to account in Bangladesh. The reprisals against Odhikar are an egregious and shameless act to silence and intimidate human rights defenders in Bangladesh," said Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.
The organisation had filed a writ petition in May 2019 seeking explanation from the Bureau as it withheld Odhikar's renewal application for eight years since 14 September 2014.
The suspension and involuntary dissolution of an organisation are among the severest restrictions on the right to freedom of association, protected under Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bangladesh is a party.
The decision to suspend or dissolve an association should only be made by an impartial and independent court, and not by administrative bodies.
"We have learnt about disconcerting inquiries from the Bureau seeking sensitive details about families of individuals subjected to enforced disappearance and extrajudicial execution on a sub-judice matter as this is one of the core areas of Odhikar's work," said Saad Hammadi.
In 2014, Odhikar's secretary Adilur Rahman Khan and director Nasir Uddin Elan were detained for 62 days and 25 days, respectively, on allegations of producing "fabricated reports" on casualties in a crackdown on a protest during May 2013.
The latest actions against Odhikar raises fears of further retribution against members of the organisation and the larger civil society in the country.
"Reporting on human rights violations is not anti-government or anti-state. The government must respond to the allegations of human rights violations through credible independent investigations and refrain from punishing human rights defenders and civil society organisations," said Saad Hammadi.