IBAHRI condemns the conviction of Bangladeshi Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

Wednesday 10 January 2024

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) denounces the conviction of Muhammad Yunus, who has been sentenced to six months in prison for alleged labour law violations. Mr Yunus, and three others who were convicted, deny the allegations. They have been granted a month’s bail during which time they plan to appeal, according to their legal team.

In 2006, Mr Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize as a result of his work to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh. He pioneered the global movement ‘microcredit’ to lift millions of the rural poor of Bangladesh out of poverty. 

Mr Yunus is facing more than 100 other charges of labour law violations and alleged corruption. This is viewed by his supporters as a vendetta of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government against the microfinance pioneer.  Irene Khan, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, called the conviction ‘a travesty of justice’ and said that ‘a social activist and Nobel laureate who brought honour and pride to the country is being persecuted on frivolous grounds’.

In August, IBAHRI Director Baroness Helena Kennedy KC alongside 160 global figures, including former United States President Barack Obama and the immediate past Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, published a joint letter denouncing ‘continuous judicial harassment’ of Mr Yunus.

Following the verdict, Mr Yunus stated that the outcome was ‘contrary to all legal precedent and logic’. He promised to ‘continue to serve the people of Bangladesh and the social business movement to the best of my ability’. He called for ‘the Bangladeshi people to speak in one voice against injustice and in favour of democracy and human rights for each and every one of our citizens’.

The IBAHRI awaits the outcome of the appeal. 

For further information, please contact: the IBA Human Rights Institute at IBAHRI@int-bar.org

Notes to the Editor 

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  2. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
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  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

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Website page link for this news release:

Short link: www.tinyurl.com/87p82veb
Full link: www.ibanet.org/IBAHRI-condemns-the-conviction-of-Bangladeshi-Nobel-Laureate-Muhammad-Yunus