Tuesday, September 4, 2007

UN: Human Rights Expert Does Not Have Immunity From Corruption Charges in Bangladesh

UNITED NATIONS -- A Bangladeshi woman jailed on corruption charges in her country does not have immunity from prosecution because of her work as a U.N. human rights expert, a United Nations spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Sigma Huda, a lawyer appointed by the U.N. in 2004 as an independent expert on human trafficking, faces trial on charges of abetting her husband in extorting more than 20 million takas (US$294,000) from a construction firm while he was communications minister. She was jailed earlier this month.

Under international conventions, Huda enjoys certain diplomatic privileges that prevent her arrest or detention while she is acting in her role as a U.N. rights expert.

But U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has determined that "the charges against Ms. Huda appear not to be related to, or otherwise fall within, her functions" as a U.N. rights expert, said spokeswoman Marie Okabe.

She said the Bangladeshi government has been informed that Huda does not have immunity from prosecution on the corruption charges...


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