A European Parliamentary delegation on Wednesday hoped that the political environment in Bangladesh would become ‘less confrontational and hostile’ in the coming months with an inclusive election in place.
The delegation urged Bangladesh authorities to facilitate the necessary conditions for an inclusive, free and fair general election.
“We hope all the parties will actually be willing to stand for election to make sure that people of Bangladesh have a real choice at the ballot-box,” delegation chair Jean Lambert told a press conference at the EU office here before wrapping up their Bangladesh visit.
Ambassador and the EU Head of Delegation Rensje Teerink was also present, reports UNB.
Lambert said this is something real importance for the people of Bangladesh who deserve that choice.
She said they had a meeting at the Election Commission and discussed how the next national election can be inclusive, free and fair.
Lambert said they also discussed issues related to budget, capacity building and next election management.
She laid emphasis on freedom of press and freedom of assembly what they promote worldwide.
MEPs met State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda and Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose ahead of the general elections.
The European delegation was also received by the BNP leadership.
The MEPs recalled that up to EUR 690 million have been earmarked in EU support for Bangladesh in the current Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 and reiterated their wish to remain engaged and to further support Bangladesh in areas such as human rights, good governance and the environment.
They also hoped that the impressive economic growth of the past years and the encouraging progress in the fight against poverty, which have made Bangladesh an important trading partner of the European Union, will further help achieve the goals to which it has committed in a more inclusive manner.
The European Parliamentarians, however, regretted the deterioration of human rights situation over the past few years, and took note of reports on hindrance to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and violence against women.
They also recalled that the issue of child marriage remains a serious concern, and that violence against secular writers and bloggers, against members of religious minorities and against LGBTI people must end.
The European delegation invited Bangladeshi authorities to step up efforts as regards these concerns and to facilitate the valuable work of civil society in addressing these issues.
The delegation of the European Parliament welcomed a number of positive developments in several areas, was encouraged by the reduction of poverty and the overall positive economic development.
They also welcomed progress related to the Sustainability Compact, but recalled that a number of relevant issues in that context remain pending, notably in the area of labour rights.
The MEPs recalled the need to fully align the Labour Act and the EPZ Labour Act with ILO standards, in particular Conventions No. 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining.
They also noted that the likely graduation to middle-income country status will require a transitional process to implement and monitor the required ILO Conventions.
The EP delegation paid an official visit to Bangladesh from February 12 to 14.
Richard Corbett, James Nicholson, Wajid Khan and Sajjad Kari, in his capacity as rapporteur on South Asia in the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, were among delegation members.
The visit of the MEPs was organized in two parts. On Monday, they visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and gathered first-hand information on the ongoing exodus and refugee crisis.
This part of the visit was organised together with a Delegation of the European Parliament’s Sub-committee on Human Rights, led by its Chairman Pier Antonio Panzeri, who travelled onwards to Myanmar.
During the second part of the visit, the MEPs returned to capital Dhaka for meetings with the Bangladesh authorities, mainly with its counterparts in the Jatiya Sanghad, the Bangladesh Parliament, and with representatives of civil society.
They appreciated the opportunity to inform themselves on developments in Bangladesh at an important juncture in bilateral relations with the European Union, including the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact that aims at improving the working conditions in the readymade garment industry, launched after the Rana Plaza tragedy.