Little progress in South Asia’s human rights: report

NEW DELHI, Jan 12, 2007 (AFP) – War-torn Sri Lanka and politically unstable Bangladesh suffered worsening human rights violations in 2006 while other parts of the subcontinent saw scant progress, Human Rights Watch said Thursday. In its annual report, the New York-based watchdog said Bangladesh’s “already poor human rights record worsened, as security forces continued to commit numerous abuses, including extrajudicial killings, excessive use of force, and custodial torture.”

“A culture of impunity, reinforced by legislation, which largely shields the security forces from legal challenge, and by government praise for many of the unlawful killings, leads to abuses going largely uninvestigated and unpunished,” it said.

In Bangladesh, this month’s general elections were also shrouded in “fears of widespread violence.” The opposition, led by the Awami League, are boycotting the January 22 polls and violence during protests since April has killed at least 35 people.

In Sri Lanka, an upsurge in fighting between government troops and the Tamil Tigers has “resulted in a dramatic increase in serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

“Government forces were implicated in several massacres of civi