Human Rights Crisis in Rohingya Refugee Camps: Urgent Call for Protection and Justice

Human Rights Crisis in Rohingya Refugee Camps: Urgent Call for Protection and Justice
Rohingya in Teknaf, by Matt Crook, via Flickr, 2015


Alexandra Posta

East and South Asia Researcher

Global Human Rights Defense

Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh are facing an alarming human rights crisis, characterised by escalating violence and a severe lack of protection [Goodyear, 13 July 2023]. The Rohingya, an ethnic minority group, fled brutal persecution in Myanmar and sought refuge in neighboring Bangladesh, leading to the establishment of temporary camps in Cox's Bazar and Bhasan Char [Goodyear, 13 July 2023]. However, these temporary settlements have transformed into semi-permanent homes for approximately one million Rohingya refugees, presenting unique challenges for their safety and well-being [Goodyear, 13 July 2023].

Recent reports by Human Rights Watch (HRW) have shed light on the dire situation within the Rohingya refugee camps [HRW, 13 July 2023]. The camps have become breeding grounds for violence, with armed gangs terrorizing the already vulnerable population [HRW, 13 July 2023]. HRW's documentation revealed 26 harrowing cases of violence against Rohingya refugees, ranging from murders and kidnappings to extortion, sexual assault, and forced marriages [HRW, 13 July 2023]. Disturbingly, the response from Bangladeshi authorities in addressing these crimes has been woefully inadequate, with victims reporting limited access to justice and protection [HRW, 13 July 2023]. HRW further highlights the multiple barriers Rohingya victims face when attempting to seek assistance from the authorities [HRW, 13 July 2023]. Denied direct access to the criminal justice system, they must approach Bangladesh administrative authorities or security forces to file complaints, but often find little support in their pursuit of justice [HRW, 13 July 2023]. Bribery and corruption allegations within the police force further hinder their efforts, leaving victims without a meaningful pathway to justice [HRW, 13 July 2023]. Even more concerning is the coerced involvement of Rohingya community leaders, or majhis, who serve as informants for the authorities and subsequently become targets of armed groups, leading to the loss of several majhis' lives [HRW, 13 July 2023]. The presence of criminal gangs, including the notorious Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), has further fueled the cycle of violence within the camps [HRW, 13 July 2023].

The situation within the Rohingya refugee camps, as reported by Human Rights Watch, clearly violates multiple human rights provisions. First and foremost, the violence and terror inflicted upon the Rohingya refugees by armed gangs, including murders, kidnappings, sexual assault, and forced marriages, violate the right to life, liberty, and security of the person, as stated in Articles 3 and 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 6 and 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Moreover, the inadequate response from Bangladeshi authorities in addressing these crimes further violates the right to access justice, as enshrined in Article 8 of the UDHR and Article 2 of the ICCPR. The denial of direct access to the criminal justice system and the prevalence of bribery and corruption within the police force exacerbate the barriers faced by Rohingya victims in seeking justice. Additionally, the coerced involvement of Rohingya community leaders, leading to their targeting by armed groups, infringes upon their right to freedom of association and protection from harm, as outlined in Article 20 of the UDHR and Article 22 of the ICCPR. The presence of criminal gangs within the camps only perpetuates a cycle of violence and further undermines the human rights of the Rohingya community. The situation demands urgent attention from the international community to ensure the protection and enforcement of fundamental human rights for the vulnerable Rohingya refugees. 

The human rights situation in the Rohingya refugee camps demands immediate attention and action from the Bangladesh government [HRW, 13 July 2023]. HRW urges Bangladesh to collaborate with the United Nations in formulating a comprehensive safety plan that prioritizes the protection and well-being of the Rohingya refugees [HRW, 13 July 2023]. Additionally, donor governments and UN agencies must intensify efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of the Rohingya population and call on Bangladesh to remove bureaucratic barriers to justice [HRW, 13 July 2023]. The crisis facing the Rohingya refugees is a matter of global concern and requires urgent intervention to safeguard their rights, security, and access to justice [HRW, 13 July 2023]. Failure to address these issues will perpetuate the suffering of a vulnerable population and perpetuate the cycle of violence and injustice they endure daily [HRW, 13 July 2023].


  1. Sheena Goodyear. (13 July 2023). As violence surges in Rohingya camps, victims have no path to justice. CBC. Available at <>.
  2. HRW. (13 July 2023). Bangladesh: Spiraling Violence Against Rohingya Refugees. Human Rights Watch. Available at <>.
  3. Niza Nondo. (10 March 2023). 'We have no future here' Rohingya teenager says on life in the world's largest refugee camp. CBC. Available at <>.