Bangladesh was reviewed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 15-16 March 2018. An IDSN delegation including dalit representatives from Bangladesh took part in the review where several issues relating to caste-based discrimination were discussed.

Concerns were raised at the review over the narrowing space for civil society, actions undertaken or planned to ensure non-discrimination of Dalits, special measures for minority groups in areas of employment, health and education, and the status of the Anti-discrimination bill.

The Committee also asked why reservation quota for Dalits was depended on the adoption of the Anti-discrimination Bill, suggested to recognise Dalits as a minority in Bangladesh, provide data on the community’s access to jobs, health care services and social security, and plans to uplift Dalits. The Committee also asked about discrimination of Dalits in their access to housing and water and sanitation, and to provide disaggregated data on the Dalit situation in Bangladesh.

The state delegation stated that the Anti-discrimination bill needs to be re-drafted but were unable to give a timeline due to upcoming elections. They noted that there are many ethnic minorities in Bangladesh and did not feel there was a need to address a situation of one community but expressed its will to work with the NGOs working on Dalit issues in the country to address the situation.

Ahead of the review IDSN and IDSN’s members in Bangladesh – BDERM and NNMC has submitted a joint report for the consideration of the committee. BDERM also issued a press release on the review.