Programme 3: Human rights

NETZ stands up for the rights of the poorest in the villages

The protection of fundamental human rights is an integral part of the constitution of Bangladesh. In reality, however, large groups of people see their rights systematically violated. These include landless people, women and minorities. The existing laws are not properly enforced and applied, and the legal framework needs improvementin many aspects.

Together with leading human rights organisations in Bangladesh, NETZ strengthens those people who struggle for their rights. At the same time, NETZ is part of a network seeking to improve the legal framework and ensure legal prosecution whenever rights are grossly violated.

Human rights activists in Dhaka rallying for the protection of the rights of religious minorities and indigenous people.

900 women and men from the indigenous Santal community living in northern Bangladesh organised themselves in selfhelp groups. They received trainings on the Right to Information Act and on how they can claim their rights for land and regarding social security allowances.

The “Right to Food” campaign in Bangladesh pointed out the duty of the state to guarantee food security to the ultra poor during two conferences and with human chains. Lawyers are investigating, whether the Right to Food can be enforced by legal action in Bangladesh.

NETZ supported human rights defenders subjected to repression, by bringing their case before the international public nad through concrete local support.


Traditions and existing power structures in the villages are serious obstacles. Those who are afraid of losing their power often obstruct directly or indirectly human rights work. For instance, men keep their wives from attending meetings of the human rights committees. Theatre activists receive open threats. Although resistance against the human rights committees tends to decline once their work starts getting recognition, it is still powerful enough. Different mindsets should be called into question, also and particularly by human rights activists themselves.

Prospect for 2013

NETZ has prepared the cooperation with 5,000 human rights defenders. From 2013, they will be strengthened to sustainably improve the protection of poor and disadvantaged people in Bangladesh.


Kai Fritze

Programme Officer
Phone: 0 (049) 64 41 - 9 74 63-0