Human rights today and extra judicial killings in Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash
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By Jahangir Alam Akash

9/10/2009 1:08:00 AM -

By Jahangir Alam Akash, 'Now, it has been 'raining' in Bangladesh. It is not actual rain from natural. But it is raining of extra judicial killings in the name of 'crossfire' drama. This drama is staged by the state. And the main hero of this drama is RAB. Government and RAB haven't obeyed the law and constitution as well as universal declaration of human rights regarding the extra judicial killings.'

An outlawed party leader was killed in 'crossfire' in Mahadevpur village under Mirpur upazila of Kushtia early on 9th September, 2009 raising the number of such deaths in the district to 17 in 14 days. On the other hand, Extremists have killed 22 people in four weeks in ten districts of Khulna division despite deaths of at least nine extremists in shootouts with law enforcers during the same period from August 1-27. Source: the daily Star, 10.9.2009.

Government Sources told, the deceased was identified as Anwar Hossain Kalu alias Kala Anu, 39, son of Amu Malitha of Gacherdia at Daulatpur upazila in the district. Anwar was a leader of Lal Pataka, a Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP-ML) faction, and also a close associate of party's founder Ronny Biswas, who was killed in an 'encounter' last year, police said. Acting on a tip-off, Rab-12 members raided a house at Mahadevpur at about 3:40am where a gang of extremists, led by Anwar, was holding a meeting. Sensing the presence of law enforcers, the outlaws opened fire forcing them to fire back that triggered a gunfight. At one stage, the accomplices managed to flee the scene while the body of Anwar was found lying dead on the ground. RAB recovered one light gun, two bullets, five explosives and two sharp weapons from the spot. Later police rushed to the spot and recovered the body. Anwar was accused in six cases including three of murder, police said.

Previous report: http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1106

Government should secure democracy rule of law press freedom and human rights

Can as a state or government is a killers or terrorists? But in Bangladesh is like this. From the year of 2004 has been continuously going on extra judicial killings by state there. Especially, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) is the main state killers in the name of so-called 'crossfire' or 'encounter' or 'gunfight' in Bangladesh.

An accused operative of outlawed Gono Bahini was killed in 'crossfire' between Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the outlawed organisation at Durbachara in Kushtia Sadar upazila on 7th September, 2009. The dead was identified as Asraful Islam alias Asha Mondol, 40, son of Monabber Mondol of Durbachara. With this killing a total 681 'crossfire' incidents took place in 10 districts in southwestern region since 2004. Of them, Kushtia is on the top of the list with 237 such cases. Sixteen 'crossfire' incidents took place in Kushtia in last 13 days. Source: the daily Star

Government sources said, according to the source, a RAB-12 team raided Durbachara village where some Gono Bahini men, led by Asha, were holding a meeting around 3:45am. Sensing Rab's presence, the underground operatives opened fire, forcing the law enforcers to retaliate. After the outlaws fled the scene, Asha was found dead on the spot. The RAB members recovered a pipe gun and two bullets from there. Police said Asha, one of the top Gono Bahini cadres, was accused in seven cases including two for murder filed with Kushtia Sadar and Islamic University police stations.

On the other hand, Shafiqul Islam is a youth who was arrested by RAB from Haribhasha bazar in Panchagarh district on 1st September, 2009. But, his family still hasn't found him, now where he staying. Source: the daily Sangbad.

We had a great hope that Bangladesh Awami League after taking the power they would stop the state killings. Because, the party chief now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was given commitment to the nation openly before last general election about the stop of extra judicial killings. In spite of now we are seeing almost every day has been happening state killings.

We strongly say that, extra-judicial killings must stop. The Government must bring those involved in extra-judicial killings to justice. Because state killings totally the violation of constitution. These type of killings and torture are the barrier to establish of rule of law. Our last report on extra judicial killings 'The Constitution & Court ruling, in spite of…!' http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1104

In Bangladesh torture is very open to all during remand or detained. We demand to the government that, torture during remand and confined questioning must be stopped. An accused person must be questioned by the police in the presence of his lawyer. An independent and fair investigation must be carried out relating to the death of detained BDR members. The Bangladesh Government must take the necessary steps to bring of state killings or torture.

Accused of state torture and state killings never comes under trial. Not only that, never hadn't investigate about the extra judicial killings and state torture. Please see our other report about extra judicial killings in Bangladesh 'Extra judicial killings & Sheikh Hasina!' http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1087

We hope, for safe the democracy, rule of law, human rights, and constitution government should stop all kinds of human rights violation, extra judicial killings, minority-indigenous oppression, women-children torture and journalist's torture-repression. 9-9-2009

Previous report: The Constitution & Court ruling, in spite of…! http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1104

Another two more suspected criminals were killed by extra judicial killings in Bangladesh. Two suspected criminals were killed in separate 'crossfire' with the members of Rapid Action Battalion and police in Faridpur and Kushtia on 6th September, 2009.With these two the total 71 peoples were killed in the same way in the regime of present government. Source: the New Age, 7th September, 2009.

But Home minister Sahara Khatun told that, 'no extra-judicial killing was taking place during the swoop.' This type of statement has encouraged to the law enforcers for extra judicial killings. Being a home minister her statement totally unlawful, unconstitutional. Why the 'Awami intellectuals' can't raise any voice against extra judicial killings? We urges to all patriotic journalists, writers, columnists, professors, humanists please to do something for human rights individually or organizationally.

Sources said, Of them, Tofazzal Hossain alias Tapu Khan, a local Juba League leader, was killed in a gunfight with the RAB personnel at Hatkrishnapur under the Sadarpur upazila in Faridpur while Abdul Hannan alias Hana, 45, regional leader of the now defunct Gano Bahini, died in a gun encounter with policemen at Anandanagar under Mirpur upazila in Kushtia. RAB sources said a team of the RAB-8 challenged a group of people who were moving suspiciously in the Hatkrishnapur bazar area at about 3:30am as a part of their increased vigilance following the rise in the robbery incidents in Sadarpur upazila recently.

The suspected group members sharply took shelter inside a nearby primary school and fired bullets on the RAB members forcing the lawmen to retaliate triggering a gun-battle for about half-an-hour. Later, the RAB personnel kept the school under their cordon till the dawn. The sources claimed, Sadarpur upazila nirbahi officer Khandaker Oliur Rahman and officer-in-charge of the local police station Naresh Karmaker arrived at the scene at dawn. In their presence, the law-enforcers with the help of locals found out the body of the group leader Tofazzal from the spot and they seized a revolver, a shutter gun, one pipe gun and some bullets from there. Tofazzal was an organising secretary of the Sadapur upazila unit of Awami Juba League, an associate organisation of the ruling Awami League, and hailing from village Jatrabari under Krishnapur union of the upazila.

The body was sent to the Faridpur Medical College and Hospital morgue for autopsy. Tofazzal was wanted by Sadarpur police in more than a dozen criminal cases, including two murders, police said. In another incident, a police team from the Mirpur police station in Kushtia on secret information about a clandestine meeting of the Gano Bahini operatives went to raid a place near a brickfield at Anandanagar in the upazila at about 2:30am. Sensing the presence of the police team, the underground group operatives opened fire on the lawmen forcing them to fired back that triggered a gunfight for several minutes. Their leader Hannan was killed on the spot during exchange of fires, police claimed. Later, the law enforcers recovered a pipe gun and five bullets from the scene. The killed Hannan was hailing from village Ambarhia at Mirpur upazila and he was wanted by police in half-a-dozen criminal cases, including three murders. With the two, the number of people killed by the law enforcers in 'crossfire' stood at 71, after the Awami League-led alliance government assumed office in January 6, 2009.

The latest killings also marked continuation of the extrajudicial killing by the lawmen during the AL regime despite the government repeatedly told countrymen that they would put an end to such killing. Different national and international rights groups are raising their voice against the extrajudicial killing.

What said the home minister?
Home minister Sahara Khatun has said that the ongoing crackdown on outlaws and extremists in the southwest is based on a list prepared by the law-enforcement agencies. “The law-enforcers are carrying out the clampdown as the extremists and terrorists regrouped in the south-western region,” the minister told reporters at the Secretariat. She claimed that no extra-judicial killing was taking place during the swoop. “Those who are getting killed are dying in gun battles with the police and RAB.” “Will the law-enforcers take bullets trying to detain the extremists?” she snapped at reporters. “The outlaws, terrorists and militants should be nabbed and they (the law enforcers) will take any measure for that,” the minister said.

Sources said, security has deteriorated in recent times in the region, which was a 'death valley' a few years back, with a number of murders taking place.

Eight people died in the alleged gunfights with police and RAB in last two weeks. Two people were killed on Sunday morning in Kushtia and Faridpur in so-called 'gun battles' with the police and RAB. Sahara hinted that another list was going to be prepared. “The people linked to the outlawed parties should be listed.” “They are changing their strategies. The law enforcers will have to change theirs as well,” the minister said. Human-rights NGO Odhikar said 19 people were killed in crossfire with RAB and police in August; most of them occurring in the southwestern region. Ten of the victims were activists of outlawed parties. The human-rights organisations have long been asking the government to stop the killings terming them extra judicial. RAB said as many as 577 people were killed in 'crossfire' in 472 incidents until Aug 31 since the formation of the elite force on March 26, 2004. The High Court on June 29 asked the government to explain why killing without trial in so-called crossfire or encounter will not be declared illegal, and why departmental and criminal actions should not be taken against those who perpetrate such killings in custody and outside. The shooting incidents are commonly reported as 'crossfire' in the media, a term which has come to imply 'suspicious' or extra-judicial killings. Most recently, controversy was sparked when two polytechnic students were killed in RAB 'crossfire' in the capital in early June.

Former state minister for home Tanjim Ahmed had said the RAB had launched a departmental investigation into the death of the two students.

According to rights group Odhikar, 322 people were killed during the last two years of the caretaker government led by Fakhruddin Ahmed in “crossfire”.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina herself announced in February that the extrajudicial killings perpetrated during the tenure of the military-installed interim government would be investigated. International and local rights groups, including Amnesty International, US-based Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, Bangladesh and Odhikar, over past decades have frequently expressed concern over the rate of extra-judicial killings in the country. HRW, in May, in a damning report, suggested 'elite' security forces such as Rapid Action Battalion and the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) be disbanded. Source: BD News 24.com

NHRC dysfunctional as body not reconstituted
The National Human Rights Commission has virtually ceased to exist as the government is yet to reconstitute the quasi-judicial body in line with the National Human Rights Commission Act enacted by the parliament on July 14.

'We are uncertain about how to deal with the commission activities. There is practically no commission as the seven-member body now has only the chairman and no members,' the commission chairman, Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury, told. Source: the New Age, 7th September, 2009

Formed in November 2008 under the National Human Rights Commission Ordinance promulgated by the military-controlled interim government on December 23, 2007, the commission failed to create any impact on national life although a number of allegations on rights violation were lodged.

Shortage of manpower and logistics was blamed for the state of inertia at the time. The Awami League-led government enacted the new act on July 14, 2009 bringing about some major changes in the ordinance, especially in the process of appointment of commission members, lessening their age limit and increasing the number of commissioners to six with a provision of having a regular member and five others as volunteers.These changes frustrated the existing members.

One of the two permanent members has already crossed the age limit of 70 years in keeping with the amended law. The earlier age limit of a commission member was 72. Munira Khan, who is now over 70 years old, verbally informed the chairman of the commission that she did not qualify to remain a member of the commission in keeping with the new law, the chairman told. Munira said the government did not consult with the commission on the age limit when the new law was enacted.

'Being informed, I thought it would not be ethical to be with the commission from the day President Zillur Rahman gave his consent to the law on July 14,' she said. The other member, Niru Kumar Chakma, who was on lien from Dhaka University, has got back to his earlier job as professor of geography and environment in the university. In a letter to the chairman on July 15, Niru said he would not be able to serve as a commissioner as he returned to Dhaka University. The commission has now only one official to work as secretary to the commission and five other members on the staff deputed from the Access to Justice Project funded by the United Nations Development Programme. The commission needs a large number of members on the staff to run its activities across the country as prescribed in the law, the chairman said, adding the government must provide the commission with adequate staff, budget and logistics to run it independently. The commission has started tottering since it came into being during the fag end of the two-year tenure of the interim administration. Even about two months inside the enactment of the new law, the government is yet to initiate any process to reconstitute the commission with the appointment of six members. The law stipulates a seven-member selection committee should be formed headed by the parliament speaker to recommend names to the president for appointment of the commission chairman and members. He will be aided by the law and the home minister, the law commission chairman and the cabinet secretary. Two lawmakers one each from the treasury and opposition benches will also be members on the selection committee. The commission is now housed in a rented floor of a four-storey building at Lalmatia.

Extra judicial killings & Sheikh Hasina! http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1087

Dear Sheikh Hasina honorable Prime Minister of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh please says something about extra judicial killings and minority repression. It's a great question of the country peoples that, why you shouldn't take any action to stop inhumanity like minority torture and extra judicial killings? Dear Prime Minister, please remember your party election manifesto. We can remember very clearly that, your party and you had told to the nation before last general election that, 'if we would go in power then we should stopped the extra judicial killings.' But, now day by day has been increasing state killings. We want to believe that, being a Prime Minister you can't give false statement or promised with the nation.

Minority torture and extra judicial killings are going on in Bangladesh! When will be stop and why government shouldn't take action against the actors of minority and state torture? Every day, in Bangladesh has been killings, attempted to murder, torturing and other inhumanity. Is Bangladesh a democratic and civilized country? How could we say that it's a civilized and democratic country? Without human rights, rule of law how we could say that Bangladesh is a democratic country?

A gang of criminals attacked three Hindu families at Dighalkandi Sahapara village in Puthia upazila of Rajshahi Monday (31-08-2009) night, injuring 12 people. Source: the daily Star. Police and locals said the hoodlums also looted five houses and shops during the attack in an attempt to grab land of those families. Of the injured, Profulla Chandra Saha, his wife Bijli Rani Saha and brother Bijoy Saha, Sukumar, Chand and Nomita were admitted to Puthia Health Complex in a critical condition.

Sources said around 30 criminals, believed to be BNP-Jamaat cadres, made the attack and damaged houses of vanpuller Bijoy, Sukumar and Uttam. They also looted the grocery shop of Sukumar and stitching shop of Uttam's wife Nomita during the attack. Local sources said criminals of neighbouring Kacharipara village beat up two youths–Nayan and Sujon–at Sahapara on August 27, 2009. Following the incident, a total of 35 people of 10 Hindu families filed a general diary (GD) with the local police station expressing their insecurity. After filing of the GD, the gang attacked the three families on the night. The villagers alleged that the attackers hurled filthy abuses toward them during the attack for supporting Awami League (AL) during the last general election. Sources also said, criminals have been trying to grab the land of the Hindu families of Dighalkandi village for long.

Local sources told, “There were a number of Hindu families in the village. Most of them fled away to save their lives and some families are still living there bearing the brunt of adversity.” Shibesh Saha, a villager told, “We have nowhere to go. Where we go, the miscreants are trailing us. We are so scared that many of us cannot work.”

A case was filed with Puthia Police against 25 persons including Abul, Jahangir, Aiyub, Arif and Shahabuddin of Kacharipara village. But, administration hasn't taken any action against the perpetrators, still. Extra judicial killings are very well known subject in Bangladesh. RAB and other law enforcing agencies have doing extra judicial killings by violating the constitution. But, the government as well as our judiciary hasn't say anything regarding this human rights violation by state.

An accused 'criminal' sustained bullet injury in a 'shootout' with Rapid Action Battalion in the capital city's Motijheel yesterday (1-9-2009). Law enforcers told, Ismail Hossain Lalu alias Rocket Lalu, 34, of Jatrabari, is an accomplice of “Foreign” Kuddus, one of the top listed criminals in Motijheel area.

RAB says, when a patrol team of Rab-3 moved to arrest a gang of three to four criminals in front of Motijheel Ideal School and College, the criminals opened fire on them. As the Rab personnel retaliated, a gunfight ensued. Lalu was found lying at the spot bullet-hit in his left leg after the shootout. He was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Police arrested him but his accomplices managed to flee. A revolver and three bullets were recovered from the spot.

RAB sources said Lalu confessed his involvement in killing trader Anwar at the capital's Shapla Chattar on September 27, 2008. Lalu was also involved in extortion and an accused in several cases including arms cases with Motijheel and Sabujbagh police stations.

On the other hand, three suspected criminals were killed in separate incidents of 'shootout' in Khulna, Kushtia and Pabna on 5th September, 2009. Source: the daily Star, 6-9-2009. The deceased were identified as Arifur Alam Akkas, 45, a pirate active in the Sundarbans, Murad Hossain alias Bhola, 40, a leader of outlawed Gano Bahini, and Hasan Ali alias Hasan Kosai, 32, a cadre of Janajuddha.

Government side told, Police said Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel arrested Akkas, accused in a number of cases, from his Khalishpur residence in Khulna city on 4th September, 2009 at evening. As per his statement, Rab and police took him to an abandoned hospital at Hatiadanga village in Koira upazila to recover arms on the night. When the law-enforcers reached the village, the associates of Akkas opened fire on them triggering a gunfight. Akkas was caught in the line of fire while trying to flee and died on the spot, police said. They said two police and two RAB men were also injured during the gunfight. Two guns and six bullets were recovered from the spot.

In Kushtia, acting on a tip-off police raided Kaya Child Heaven School where a group of Gano Bahini men were holding a meeting at about 4:30am on 5th September, 2009 said same sources. Source told, Sensing the presence of police, the outlaws opened fire at them prompting them to fire back. At one stage, the outlaws managed to flee the scene. Police later found the body of Murad lying on the ground. Police recovered a shutter gun and two bullets from the spot. According to police, Murad was accused in 11 cases, including six for murder. In Police raided Shimulchhora area in Sadar upazila after receiving information that the outlaws of Janajuddha were holding a meeting there early on 5th September. As soon as they reached Shimulchhora around 2:00am, the outlaws started firing at the law enforcers forcing them to retaliate. Hasan, wanted in a number of cases, was killed during the gunfight, police said. He was also a convicted fugitive sentenced to 32 years' imprisonment in a murder case, police added. In above information was served by government side. But, our blind media hasn't investigated regarding so-called crossfire (extra judicial killings).

Our questions that, how were flew the accomplices of the said terrorist? Actually, RAB always is giving totally false statement to the press. And press also doesn't investigate about extra judicial killings and the statement of RAB.

We strongly believe that, without real democracy, rule of law, good governance, how we could hope that the government does punish the real culprits and masterminds of minority torture as well as other human rights violation?

We are waiting eagerly for to see the execution of war criminals, killers of the father of the nation Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and killers of the four national leaders as well as we want to see that, the present government should established the constitution of 1972 and to stop the politics which are based on religious. 1-9-2009.

After the election the new Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, announced extrajudicial killings perpetrated during the tenure of the interim government would be investigated.

'The Asian Legal Resource Centre press release about extra judicial killings: 2009-02-13'

Despite being a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) since 6 September 2000 and a member of the Human Rights Council, Bangladesh continues to be the scene of a large number of extra-judicial killings accompanied by total impunity. According to Article 2 and 6 of the ICCPR, the Bangladeshi authorities have the obligation to ensure the right to life of the country's people and must provide prompt and effective remedies in cases where any violations takes place. Bangladesh also has the obligation to introduce legislation that is in conformity with the ICCPR, but continues to fail in this regard.

Article 32 of the Constitution of Bangladesh protects the people's right to life and liberty, as fundamental rights. The provision reads:

“No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty saves in accordance with law.”

Despite these rights being enshrined in the country's supreme law, they are being violated on a scale that requires the attention of the Human Rights Council, which has to date, failed to address the situation of rights in Bangladesh. According to local human rights groups, during the last four years alone, there have been at least 1051 extra-judicial killings perpetrated by Bangladesh's law-enforcement agencies, notably the Rapid Action Battalion, the police and the armed forces. In not a single one of these cases has the authorities allowed complaints to be lodged.

The ALRC recalls that there are provisions for the lodging of complaints with the police under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure-1898, which states that:

“Every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence if given orally to an officer in charge of a police-station, shall be reduced to writing by him or under his direction, and be read over to the informant; and every such information, whether given in writing or reduced to writing as aforesaid, shall be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the Government may prescribe in this behalf.”

However, when the police themselves, or other branches of law-enforcement, are the alleged perpetrators of abuses, such avenues for complaints are fully obstructed. This is the case in particular with the gravest abuses, notably extra-judicial killings.

Typically, regarding extra-judicial killings, the police at the first hurriedly register a complaint of unnatural death. Such complaints are registered under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure-1898 as an “accidental or suicidal death” instead of a “homicidal death.” The same provision also empowers an “Executive Magistrate” to inquire into the incident. In all cases, the law-enforcement agents and the magistrates conspire to disguise the extra-judicial killings, notably by branding them as “crossfire” or “encounter” killings.

In the rare case where complainants attempt to lodge complaints of extra-judicial killing by State-actors, the police not only refuse to record the complaint but also intimidate the complainants and even other members of their families. Furthermore, the authorities typically then engage in smear campaigns against the victims, labelling them as being suspects or accused persons in criminal cases, including fabricating charges and/or cases against such persons. Such fabrication is commonplace in Bangladesh, and includes serious crimes like robbery, murder and the possession of illegal weapons.

The ALRC has also documented cases that show that the police also threaten complainants with extra-judicial killings under the cover of “crossfire” incidents. The message is clear to anyone that dares to complain about extra-judicial killings by the authorities in Bangladesh: complain and be killed. This leads to the perpetrators of such grave human rights abuses being able to operate and re-offend in the knowledge that their crimes will be accompanied by total impunity. This situation gives rise to a climate of sever fear in the country, including for journalists, lawyers, doctors and human rights defenders that encounter such cases, as speaking out concerning these killings also results in reprisals.

For example, Mr. Jahangir Alam Akash, a journalist and human rights defender in the northern city of Rajshahi, publicised a number of televised reports highlighting the details of “crossfire” killings along with the inconsistencies of such claims by the Rapid Action Battalion over the last few years. On October 23, 2007, officers of the Rapid Action Battalion led by Major Rashidul Hassan Rashed, illegally arrested him from his home. Mr. Akash was arbitrarily detained and tortured in a Rapid Action Battalion camp in Rajshahi. He was implicated in three fabricated charges of extortion under the Emergency Power Rules-2007, and detained in the Rajshahi Central Jail, despite a High Court Bench having granted him bail in the case. Mr. Akash, after having been released on bail, has to regularly appear before the Magistrate's Court, Sessions Court and the High Court Division to seek extensions to his bail grants and continues to receive regular threats from members of the law-enforcement agencies and their allies. He has lost his employment and is being financially crippled by legal costs. Ironically, Major Rashidul Hassan Rashed has been serving in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Ivory Coast since July 2008. Such an opportunity is treated as a prize in the Bangladeshi armed forces.

Given such experiences, which are examples of how the system works rather than aberrations, it is not surprising to find that persons have no faith in the justice system in Bangladesh. The authorities, however, claim that the lack of complaints means that there are no problems of illegal actions by the members of the law-enforcement agencies. Such “logic” is also used by the country's representatives at the Human rights Council to deflect any criticism that may surface there.

The systematic protection of members of the authorities by the State has meant that not a single case of extra-judicial killing has yet been investigated by any competent authority, and therefore no prosecutions or punishments of the alleged perpetrators have taken place. Despite what the Constitution of Bangladesh states, in reality the authorities can and do get away with murder and function as if above the law. The ALRC recalls that Article 31 of the Constitution, reads:

“To enjoy the protection of the law, and to be treated in accordance with law, and only in accordance with law, is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Bangladesh, and in particular no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law.”

However, the agencies that are responsible for such perpetrating over a thousand extra-judicial killings in the last four years and many more before, have been rewarded in various ways, notably the Rapid Action Battalion, which has received praise and awards, including the country's Independence Day Award on March 23, 2006, for “outstanding performance in maintaining law and order.” In 2007, the government awarded 28 RAB officers with “Police Medals.” All of these officers have allegedly been involved in grave human rights abuses, including extra-judicial killings.

Such extra-judicial killings by the law-enforcement agencies have continued to take place after the current government took office on January 6, 2009, and can therefore not claim innocence concerning this grave problem. The new government must ensure that all such killings cease and that truly impartial and effective investigations are launched into these cases to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that victims' families receive adequate reparation.

This will require a functioning and effective, independent judiciary at all levels, which remains highly elusive at present. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh, as the guardian and interpreter of the Constitution, must act to address this situation. The Supreme Court's High Court Division has inherent power to deal with issue of fundamental rights, according to Section 561A of the Code of Criminal Procedure-1898, which reads:

” Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent power of the High Court Division to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.”

Moreover, Article 102 (1) of the Constitution of Bangladesh authorises the High Court Division to issue certain orders and directions:

” The High Court Division on the application of any person aggrieved, may give such directions or orders to any person or authority, including any person performing any function in connection with the affairs of the Republic, as may be appropriate for the enforcement of any the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of this Constitution.”

The government of Bangladesh continues to make utterances without substance before the international community. For example, a delegation of Bangladesh led by its Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipu Moni, made a typical speech during the Universal Periodic Review of the Bangladesh on February 3, 2009. The minister said that her country will bring the perpetrators to justice immediately; however, no details as to how this would be done were included, and no action has been witnessed since. The delegation did not mention what process will be applied to ensure justice aggrieved persons, and, given that the complaint mechanisms in place deny registration of complaints concerning serious human rights abuses by state actors, it remains clear that the government is only saying what it believes people want to hear during the UPR without actually having the intention to implement any of its promises.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) urges the Human Rights Council to pay particular attention to the situation of Bangladesh, notably concerning the prevalence of extra-judicial killings there. The government of Bangladesh must invite the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial and Summary Executions to visit the country without delay. A standing invitation to all mandates of the Special Procedures should also be issued.

The nation requires thorough reforms of its criminal justice system. Effective and unhindered complaint mechanisms must be put in place and independent investigations of any and all allegations of human rights violations must be conducted. There should be an independent, permanent and accountable prosecutorial authority that remains beyond politicisation. Bangladesh must also create a fully independent judiciary, to replace the vehicle of injustice that exists in its stead at present. Without such actions there can be no hope of an end to the country's pervasive culture of impunity.

A written statement by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) regarding extra judicial killings 2009-06-01

BANGLADESH: Extra-judicial killings, torture, violence against women, media freedoms and the lack of an independent judiciary. Bangladesh has been re-elected to the Human Rights Council for another term of three years in uncontested elections at the UN General Assembly on May 12. However, during its previous three year membership in the Council, which started in 2006, the situation of human rights degraded significantly in the country, notably as the result of a nearly two-year state of emergency in which many fundamental rights were suspended and violated on a large scale.

It is imperative for the new government, which came to power following elections on December 29, 2008, to take action to address past and ongoing violations through effective investigations and prosecutions. For such prosecutions to take place, the independence of the judiciary must now be ensured in practice, not simply in theory. Bangladesh must begin to cooperate in a meaningful and verifiable manner with the Council and its various mechanisms, notably its Special Procedures. In particular it must issue a standing invitation to all of the Council's special procedures, and enable visits of all that have requests pending, without delay, giving priority to the Special Rapporteurs on extra-judicial killings, on the independence of judges and lawyers, on the freedom of expression and on torture. The government must also take concrete steps to fulfill the voluntary pledges that it has made prior to its recent elections to the Council.

The ALRC has documented grave and widespread human rights abuses, including ill-treatment, custodial torture, extra-judicial killings, restrictions on the freedoms of expression and the press have been accompanied by impunity for the perpetrators of violations. This is due to a lack of access to justice for victims of abuses, notably through the lack of independent avenues to make complaints and a lack of independence of the judiciary.

Implement pledge to halt extra-judicial killings: The Bangladesh Awami League won elections and assumed the power on January 6, 2009 with more than a two-thirds majority in parliament. In its election manifesto the Awami League promised that it will not allow extra-judicial killings. It also promised to uphold rule of law and human rights in the country. During the Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on February 3, 2009, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipu Moni, expressed her government's “zero tolerance” policy with regard to extra-judicial killings. She also promised to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. In reality, only three hours after the Foreign Minister's pledge, Mr. Samsel Islam Robin was killed in a so-called “crossfire” incident by the Detective Branch of the Police in the Jhenaidah district of Bangladesh. Crossfire is often used to justify extra-judicial killings by the authorities. Reports indicate that there were 315 extrajudicial killings in 2006, 184 in 2007 and 149 in 2008. From January to May 2009, since the new government came to power, a further 20 such killings have been recorded, but no action is being taken concerning this most grave of human rights violations.

The perpetrators include the police, the Rapid Action Battalion, the armed forces and other paramilitary forces. Not a single case has yet been investigated by any competent authority. Instead, the State Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Tanjim Ahmad Sohel, who has authority over the law-enforcement agencies, stated to the press on 6 May that “. . . the government will not allow any kind of extra-judicial killings, but the law-enforcers have the right to self-defence as per the constitution . . .” The ALRC is concerned by the authorities continuing to provide blanket justifications for killings that, allied with the lack of investigations into such cases, engenders impunity and further abuses.

“Heart attacks” and “suicides” blamed for suspicious deaths in custody: Around 20 soldiers from the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), which staged a mutiny in late February 2009, have died in under suspicious circumstances in custody. Around 75 persons including 60 officers of the Bangladesh Army that held senior ranks in the BDR, were killed in the mutiny. The deaths in custody of the mutineers took place during interrogation either by the law-enforcement agencies or the armed forces or paramilitary forces. Despite there being evidence of serious injuries on the bodies, the authorities have claimed that the deaths have mainly resulted from “suicides” or “heart attacks.” No independent investigations have been allowed. In some, soldiers that survived the interrogation have shown the evidence of torture on their bodies to Magistrates when they have been brought to court. However, no action has been taken against any of the alleged perpetrators.

Criminalization of torture: Bangladesh has been a party to the Convention Against Torture for more than a decade. Despite its resultant obligation to criminalize torture at the domestic level, the authorities have thus far failed to do so. On 5 March 2009, a draft Bill on criminalization of torture and custodial deaths was tabled in the Parliament as a Private Member's Bill. The Bill remains under review by the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. The new government has more than a two-thirds majority in parliament and should therefore be able to pass such a Bill. However, the government has yet to clarify its position concerning the criminalization of torture.

Judicial independence: Although in theory the judiciary was separated from the executive branch in November 2007, it is still not able to function independently. Despite claims in the government's pledges in advance of its bid for re-election to the Human Rights Council in 2009, that “Bangladesh recently completed the process of full separation of the judiciary from the executive,” in April 2009, the government amended the Code of Criminal Procedure-1898 to ensure that it has discretionary powers to enable officers of the executive to take control of criminal cases whenever the authorities deem fit. The authorities have created “executive magistrates” to carry out the implementation of governmental orders and “judicial magistrates” to deliver justice in the courts of law. According to the above amendment the government may empower any of its executive magistrates to take cognizance of any criminal case bypassing the original judiciary, which not only creates confusion within the criminal justice system but also undermines the judiciary. This evidently runs contrary to the claims made in the pledges and eliminates the independence of the judiciary in practice, notably concerning cases of human rights abuses alleged to have been committed by members of the authorities.

Moreover, the government has decided to withdraw “politically motivated fabricated cases” that have been pending trial. This process has created new opportunities for perpetrators of various crimes to go unpunished and will likely benefit the members and associates of the ruling political parties. Historically in Bangladesh, whichever political party comes to the power withdraws criminal cases against members of their party through executive orders involving the public prosecutors, who also belong to the ruling party. A large number of corruption and other criminal cases, including murder and violence against women, have been recommended to be withdrawn from the trial courts. This practice of providing impunity has significantly reduced the public's faith in the country's criminal justice system.

Freedom of expression: Bangladesh, in its 2009 pledges, claims to have “one of the most independent print and electronic media in the world.” However, the authorities forced some 160 local newspapers and a television news channel to close during the state of emergency. A significant number of journalists have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, received threats or been subjected to legal or physical attacks. According to Odhikar, in 2007: “35 journalists were injured, 13 arrested, 35 assaulted, 83 threatened and 13 sued. For example, a media practitioner was forced to sign an undertaking not to write any report without permission from the Bangladesh Rifles.” A request for a visit by the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression remains pending since 2003.

Examples of attacks on the press are plentiful. On 13 April, journalists were beaten by allies of a Member of Parliament at Gaforgaon in Mymensingh district. The incident happened after the legislator reacted to a media report and warned the journalists by saying “I am the MP . . . nothing can be written against me in the next five years. . .”

A journalist and editor of an English speaking national daily, Mr. Nurul Kabir's private car was chased by unidentified motorbike rider-gunmen in Dhaka on 5 March 2009. Mr. Kabir has been critical of illegitimate and extra-constitutional practices by the country's various governments, especially the emergency government. He also challenged the government's decisions before the Supreme Court during the military-controlled regimes. However, the government has remained silent and has taken no action to investigate such incidents and pursue the alleged perpetrators of attacks against members of the press.

Violence against women: The rights of the women are vulnerable in Bangladesh. In the first four months of 2009 at least 112 women and girls have been raped in the country. In one case a woman from an ethnic minority group was gang raped by four policemen. Violence against women includes physical assault, sometimes resulting in death, of women for dowries and on the pretext of honour, by their in-laws. Assaults on domestic helpers who are mostly girls also take place in large numbers. In many such incidents the police do not record cases of violence against women and girls, including the incidents of rape, due to bribery by the alleged perpetrators.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) urges the Human Rights Council to take immediate steps to address the situation of human rights in Bangladesh. The Council should insist that the government enact a law criminalizing torture, in line with international laws and standards. The country should ensure the full independence of the judiciary in practice, inter alia, by revoking the April 2009 amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure-1898 that allows the executive to take control of criminal cases. Bangladesh should investigate all allegations of human rights abuses, notably arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, extra-judicial killings, violence against women and corruption, including those committed during the recent state of emergency; prosecute all those alleged to be responsible in fair trials; and provide adequate reparation to the victims and their families. The personal integrity and freedom to work of all journalists and human rights defenders must be guaranteed without any kind of hindrance.

An urgent action on extra judicial killings by Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti.

On 26 June 2009 an innocent Jumma youth was shot dead by the military forces of Shuvalong camp of 6 Bengal led by Major Jakir/Manjur in Shuvalong, 30 kms off the district town, under Barkal upazila in Rangamati district.

Description of Incident: Mr. Tarun Kusum Chakma (30), s/o Gunadhar Chakma was a permanent resident of Bhushanchara of Harina union under Barkal upazila (sub-district) in Rangamati district, but stayed at Moitreenagar under Rangamati municipality with his family. He was an innocent youth and used to earning by day labour or by collection of forest products for family survival. Couple of days ago, he went to Shuvalong area for earnings. It is mentionable that he was active supporter of PCJSS for implementation of the CHT Accord.

On 26 June Friday was a market day of Shuvalong Bazaar. Like other villagers, he also went to Shuvalong bazzar for marketing. However, a group of members of UPDF, an anti-accord terrorist organisation, with the help of Mintu Bikash Chakma (who is familiar as Bhumihin Mintu), caught Tarun Kusum Chakam while he got down Shuvalong Bazaar from a steamer at around 9.30 am. Then he was handed over to Shuvalong camp authority after heavily torture labeling him as miscreant. However, camp authority released him found nothing after interrogation.

Again, UPDF men tried to catch him when he reached at Bazaar after getting release from army custody. Having no alternative to safe his life, he tried to escape from UPDF attack and jumped over the lake (Kaptai Lake) near Shuvalong forest outpost. At that time, a group of army led by Major Manjur of 6 Bengal and a group of UPDF men ran after him by two separate boats when he was swimming for escaping. But the army shot him when he came to land near Dhanmia shrine. He sustained bullet injuries on his leg and scrotum. The military forces led by Major Manjur started to torture brutally. At a stage, the neck of Tarun Kasum was broken. There were several wounded on his body.

Army personnel arrested another Jumma youth named Elen Chakma from the spot. UPDF claimed him as member of the UPDF who went to spot to help army to catch so-called miscreants.

However, the army authority of Shuvalong camp make several fabricated news in order to conceal their misdeed which were published on several national and local dailies and aired on electronic media. The army firstly made propaganda that a dozen of armed miscreants led by Tarun Kusum Chakma proceeded toward Suvalong Bazar to commit sabotage activities. Being informed, army challenged them when the armed miscreants reached at the place near Dhanmia shrine at about 11.00 am. At one stage, the miscreants started fleeing the scene by firing gunshots at army. The army also retaliated by firing bullets, leaving Tarun Kusum Chakma dead on the spot.

The army made second story that clash between two rival groups took place near Shuvalong bazaar. Being informed, the army rushed there and recovered dead body of Tarun Kusum Chakma from the spot.

The army made another third story that the miscreants led by Tarun Kusum Chakma made armed attack on a group of regular patrolling party of the military forces when they (army) reached Dhanmia shrine. Even, army firstly named Tarun Kusum as Jagadish Chakma.

These stories were fully fabricated and motivated. The people who came to market witnessed that he was caught by UPDF men and handed over to army. Victim's younger brother Palash Chakma said that he was not involved with any terrorist activity. He was fully innocent.

It is also worth mentioning that Elen Chakma, who was arrested during the incident, was claimed as member of the UPDF in a press release by Shantidev Chakma, chief of Rangamati district. Shantidev mentioned that Elen went there to help army to catch the victim and the army mistakenly arrested him. This statement of UPDF proved that UPDF men also involved with this heinous killing.

The dead body was brought in Rangamati sadar hospital for post mortem in the evening on 26 June. The dead body was handed over to victim's elder sister and younger brother afternoon on 27 June.

Action Needed
This incident is a violation of inherent rights to life, which was ensured by the Constitution of Bangladesh and international legal instruments ratified by Bangladesh. However, military forces deployed in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) continued to be responsible for extra-judicial killings and for custodial killings since long time.

The CHT Accord signed between Government of Bangladesh and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) on 2 December 1997 stipulates for demilitarization of the CHT region. However, the army was entrusted responsibility to combat law and order situation by imposing de facto military rule 'Operation Uttoron' in 2001. Consequently, the military forces continue having the negative attitude toward CHT and indigenous Jumma people. The military forces are also against the withdrawal of temporary camps from CHT though CHT Accord provides to do the same. With this view, they once again has taken up the programme of operation in CHT and highlighting it in the news media widely so that they can thwart the government to have any camp withdrawn or closed down at this moment.

Though Awami League-led present grand alliance government assured in its election manifesto that it would implement the CHT Accord fully and stop extra-judicial killing in the country. However, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrest, frequently checking, conducting military operation through out the CHT, helping Bengali settlers in occupying indigenous Jumma people's land and expansion of cluster villages of Bengali settlers by the military forces continued unabated in CHT. Killing of Tarun Kusum Chakma was a result of military atrocities in CHT.

With this backdrop, letter should be sent to Government of Bangladesh raising following demands-

(1) to conduct judicial inquiry of the extra-judicial killing of Tarun Kusum Chakma;

(2) To punish the military personnel responsible for the heinous killing including Major Manjur;

(3) To provide compensation to the family of the victim;

(4) To withdraw all temporary camps of army, Ansar, APBN and VDPs including de facto military rule 'Operation Uttoron' as per CHT Accord soon;

(5) To implement the CHT Accord in letter and spirit.

Violating the High Court order:
The Bangladesh High Court asked (June, 2009) the home ministry and security forces on Monday to stop extra-judicial killings of alleged criminals. Deaths of people detained for alleged criminal links are often reported across the country by security forces who say the prisoners were brought along to assist in purported raids and other action against gangs. The High Court had also asked the secretary of the home ministry and chiefs of police and the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) force to explain within the next four weeks why criminal proceedings should not be drawn against such killings.

Three human rights organizations jointly filed a writ petition with the High Court seeking an order declaring illegal the extra-judicial killings by the law enforcement agencies. Challenged

Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Karmojibi Nari (KN) filed the petition recently as public interest litigation.

They prayed to the court for directing the government to form an enquiry committee to probe all extra-judicial killings and place before the court a report on the killings.

The petition said at least 969 people were killed since 2004 in custody and in crossfire or encounter by law enforcement agencies.

The petitioners sought HC directives for the government to provide compensations to the family members of those killed in custody and in crossfire or encounter.

It was stated in the petition that law enforcement agencies resort to extra-judicial killings in the name of crossfire or encounter violating the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

It said such killings constitute blatant violation of fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 27, 31, 32 and 35(3) of the constitution and the United Nations (UN) universal declaration of human rights.

Petitioners' counsel barrister Saifur Rashid told that Articles 27, 31, 32 and 35(3) of the constitution have guaranteed protection and security of all citizens.

The HC bench of justices Syed Mahmud Hossain and Quamrul Islam Siddiqui, which was due to hear the petition yesterday afternoon, fixed 3.00pm today for the hearing following a government prayer.

Additional Attorney General MK Rahman yesterday prayed to the court for deferment of the hearing to make necessary preparations.

Source: The daily Star
Please see our previous report about extra judicial killings: http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1015
RAB and me: I am a Journalist, writer and human rights defender working in Journalism from 1989. Over the past 20 years, I have been writing against corruption and the abuse of power in my home country Bangladesh as well as in Rajshahi, a border town neighboring India. I have been working for the daily Sangbad, a nationwide distributed Bangladeshi newspaper and the Bengali language service of Deutsche Welle. In addition, I worked as spokesman for the “Task Force against Torture” and the “Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights (BIHR)” and was Secretary General of Rajshahi Union of Journalists (RUJ). Actually I am Editor of the Human Rights Today (www.humanrightstoday.info).

Because of my relentless and fearless commitment I have long been targeted and actively threatened by my own government as well as Islamic militant groups with political interest some persons.

In May, 2007, I filmed the unwarranted attack of a civilian and his family by members of a military elite unit. This document was transmitted by the sole and only independent Bangladeshi TV-Station, as part of an investigative report on extrajudicial executions, human rights violations, corruption, dubious military operations, terrorism and torture perpetrated by the « Elite Force Rapid Reaction Battalion (RAB-5 Rajshahi). The TV-station has since been shut down. By transmitting this report I had made RAB-5 Rajshahi his sworn enemy.

Following the transmission of my investigative report, I was interrogated several times. In October, 24, 2007 at 01.30am, I was arrested and kept in jail for 28 days under false accusations. During this time, my captors tied my hands together and hanged me for 15 hours at my arms from the ceiling, while at the same time I was beaten senselessly. Seriously injured and unable to move my feet, I was finally admitted to hospital. My torturers are CPC of RAB-5 Rajshahi, Major Rashidul Hasan and Major Humayun Kabir and others 15/20 RAB persons.

Even after my release I continued to be threatened. The existing Bangladeshi law was my sole instrument against summons by the police and unfounded accusations. Unimpressed by the consequences I was threatened with my published 4 books over the past 10 months: the books are « Extrajudicial killings and Revenge » (2009), « Militant Godfathers and other Issues » (2009) “From Udichi to Pilkhana” (2009 regarding counter terrorism and militancy) and « 15 hours in total darkness » (2008).

Dear PM Sheikh Hasina, please immediately should stopped the extra judicial killings and minority torture including all kinds of human rights violation for the greater interest of peoples, rule of law, democracy, good governance and for the human rights. Otherwise, how could you say that your government is a democratic and human rights friendly government?

Previous report: http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1081

Nonstop state killings going on, haven't right to life!

Actually in Bangladesh hasn't right to life. Though, Bangladesh has signed the Universal Declaration of human rights by UN. Almost, every day State killers 'Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)' have been killings to the peoples, those who are the citizens of Bangladesh. Nonstop state killings has going on there.

Two siblings, allegedly illegal arms and drugs peddlers, were killed in a 'shootout' at Vaturia in Jessore Sadar in Bangladesh on 3rd September, 2009. Source: the daily Star, 4th October, 2009. Killeds persons both are brother. The deceased were identified as Ahsan Kabir Hasan, 55, and his brother Mizanur Rahman Mizan, 45, sons of Tafsiruddin Biswas of Shankarpur village in the upazila. Please see our previous report about extra judicial killings: http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1042
RAB told, RAB-6 recovered 12 firearms and 74 bullets from the spot while three members of RAB and two policemen were injured in the gunfight, said RAB-6 officials. Hasan and Mizan were arrested at Mirpur a in the capital on 2nd September, 2009. Please see our previous report about extra judicial killings: http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1047

The battle took place when the law enforcers went to Jessore with the two brothers to recover firearms based on their confession. As soon as they reached the spot, the cohorts of the arrestees opened fire at the law enforcers forcing them to retaliate. Hasan and Mizan were caught in the line of fire while trying to flee. The brothers died on the spot, said the sources.

Sources said, Hasan was the chief of 'Hasan syndicate', which had been carrying out smuggling and arms and drugs peddling through the Indian border. The law enforcers, however, could arrest none of the cohorts. RAB and police sources said Hasan was accused in 22 cases, including eight of killing and three of robbery, while Mizan in 18 cases, including six murder cases. According to sources, of the cases filed against them, one was for four-murder. Please see our previous report about extra judicial killings: http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1059

Sources said, the brothers were also accused in Udichi bomb-blast case. However, they were acquitted of the case as none dared to make statement against them. Hasan was ousted from the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal in 1988 for his involvement in robberies. Please see our previous report about extra judicial killings: http://www.humanrightstoday.info/?p=1039

Locals and police sources said, during the BNP-Jammat led four-party alliance government, the brothers continued smuggling, extortion and other criminal activities under the shelter of a local BNP minister. After the Awami League-led Grand Alliance government came to power, they took shelter under a powerful AL leader and were engaged in tender snatching in the city's Mirpur.

We know, in Bangladesh corruption is top to bottom. There are no rules of law, good governance, accountability, clearness, actual democracy, equality. All the institutional system is collapsed. Not only that, poverty, discrimination and torture are common picture in Bangladesh. Without political support can't grownup terrorism or terrorists. But, unfortunately the political influentials are always in dark those who are patronize to terrorism-terrorists.

So, we strongly believe that, extra judicial killings are not a solution to combat terrorism. Extra judicial killings are never being a sustainable solution for combat terrorism. For combat terrorism should practice democracy, to reduce corruption and all kinds of discrimination and poverty. As well as, should need system and institutional development. 4-9-2009.

Our question is that, why United Nation has silent about the extra judicial killings in Bangladesh? We urges to the international human rights community please to do something about right to life in Bangladesh. 10-9-2009

Editor of the Human Rights Today
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