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 Saturday, 4 January, 2003, 15:46 GMT
Moves to free Bangladeshi children
Bangladeshi children
Children are exploited by political or criminal groups
The High Court in Bangladesh has asked the authorities to explain why more than 1,000 children are being held in the country's jails.

We have already started discussions on how to free these children legally

Nazrul Islam of Odhikar
The court's move follows a report by the Odhikar (Rights) group, working with Save the Children UK, saying that at least 1,200 children are in prison.

Some of them have been incarcerated with adult prisoners - despite a law saying they should be segregated.

Most of the children in jail in the capital, Dhaka, have spent more than two years there, waiting for their cases to be heard.

Legal processes

A two-judge bench in Dhaka gave the Inspector General of Prisons one month to submit the report to the court.

Bangladeshi child
The poor are often the ones who end up in jail
The judges said they would take the necessary legal steps once they receive the report.

Nazrul Islam, programme co-ordinator for Odhikar, said some children had no-one to act on their behalf with regard to legal processes

"I am sure that if their cases are taken to court they will be freed either on bail or for good, depending on the charges for which they have been detained," Mr Islam said.

He said the group's survey showed that many children were from poor backgrounds.

He said they were often victims of exploitation - either by political groups using them to carry explosives to target opponents or by drug smuggling gangs.

Observers say that the issue is linked to the rising number of street children in Bangladesh, caused by the continuing growth of the country's urban population.

See also:

18 Sep 02 | South Asia
20 Aug 02 | South Asia
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16 Aug 02 | Country profiles
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