UN rights boss asks Bangladesh about graft charges

GENEVA, June 7 Thu Jun 7, 2007 10:39pm IST

GENEVA, June 7 (Reuters) - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has asked Bangladesh to clarify corruption charges against a U.N. human rights investigator, which will prevent her from addressing the main U.N. rights body next week.

Sigma Huda, U.N. special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, was charged earlier this week as part of a wide anti-graft drive with alleged involvement in corruption, but is free on bail.

"We have been advised that Sigma Huda has been prevented from leaving Bangladesh, where she has reportedly been charged under provisions of anti-corruption legislation in that country," U.N. rights spokesman Jose Luis Diaz told Reuters.

Arbour's office had requested clarification regarding the legal proceedings and charges against Huda, "and how, in light of the convention on privileges and immunities of the U.N. ... such proceedings allow for keeping her from attending to her duties as special rapporteur", he added.

Huda had been due to address the U.N. Human Rights Council at the start of its week-long session in Geneva on Monday.

Bangladesh's anti-corruption commission on Monday also filed graft charges at a quick trial court against her husband, Nazmul Huda, a former communication minister arrested in March, who had served in the government of prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia.

More than 170 senior leaders of the two largest parties have been arrested since the interim administration launched the anti-graft drive after it took over in January, imposed emergency and called off elections set for later that month.

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