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NGO Law Monitor: Bangladesh

In late December 2014, the Bangladesh government intensified its crackdown on the media and the opposition, amid demands for new parliamentary elections. The government is reportedly forcing media to censor news about opposition parties, arresting opposition supporters, and on at least one occasion raided the office of an English newspaper.  In addition, since December 27, 2014, all peaceful protests and rallies by opposition leaders were banned in Gazipur District. In Dhaka, Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, was imposed to officially ban all forms of public meetings.

In mid-January 2015, Bangladesh was rocked by political violence that left dozens dead and 7,000 arrested. As a result, the government briefly blocked WhatsApp, Viper, and other online voice messaging services for several days, purportedly to curb more bomb and arson attacks. Also in January, the Cabinet approved the draft Youth Organisation (Registration and Operation) Act, 2015. According to the draft law, youth organization chiefs who fail to register their groups with the Youth Development Directorate could face six months of imprisonment or a fine of Tk50,000 (about $640 USD). The draft includes other obligations and penalties as well, including dissolution of groups violating the law.

For more information, please see the "Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives" section below in this report.