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Bangladesh govt fails to stop extrajudicial killings: Amnesty Int'l

Publication Date : 24-05-2012


Extrajudicial execution in Bangladesh continued throughout 2011 despite a government pledge to end it, while the authorities have not committed to bringing to justice law enforcers accused of torturing thousands in custody, says Amnesty International (AI).

The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) allegedly killed at least 54 people in 2011, bringing the number of such deaths to more than 700 since 2004, the London-based global rights body said in its annual report titled "The State of the World's Human Rights 2012" released yesterday.

"In many cases, family members told AI that victims died after being arrested by Rab and not in an encounter as Rab claimed. The authorities failed to investigate these incidents credibly," the report says in its Bangladesh chapter.

At least three people died in police custody last year, allegedly after being tortured, but none was charged or prosecuted even by the end of the year though the government announced of bringing criminal charges against the police personnel responsible for custodial deaths.

As example of torture by law enforcers, AI mentioned the name of Jhalakathi's Limon Hossain, who was shot in the leg by Rab officials, and editor of Amar Desh newspaper Mahmudur Rahman, who told AI that he was beaten severely on his back over the course of a night at a police station inside the army cantonment after his detention in mid-2010.

Quoting Rahman as saying, the report says the beating was so severe that he lost consciousness for several hours and later saw no point in complaining as he knew the authorities would not bother to act.

International Crimes Tribunal
The Amnesty International in its 50th global report says amendments to the rules of International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) has reduced, but did not eliminate, the possibility of unfair trial of the accused of 1971 war crimes.

"Its amended rules of procedure provided for bail, presumption of innocence before guilt is proven, and measures to ensure the protection of witnesses and victims. However, a constitutional ban on the right to challenge the jurisdiction of the Tribunal remained in force," it notes.

Indigenous rights
The rights body says the Bangladesh government has failed to prevent confiscation of indigenous peoples' land by Bangalee settlers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This led to violent clashes between the two communities.

"Bengali settlers, emboldened by the army's tolerance of their actions, had frequently set fire to indigenous homes, usually in clear sight of soldiers or other law-enforcement personnel, without being stopped," the report adds.

Violence against women
Under the National Women Development Policy, the women and children affairs ministry announced a plan to provide medical treatment, legal assistance and counselling to abused women and children.

However, the authorities have failed to implement the plan and many women and children subjected to sexual and other violence were receiving no support from state institutions.

Highlighting the courage of those who protested rights violations across the globe last year, the report says the leadership has failed to address the issues of concern. It adds the UN Security Council seemed tired, out of step and increasingly unfit for purpose.

"Failed leadership has gone global in the last year, with politicians responding to protests with brutality or indifference. Governments must show legitimate leadership and reject injustice by protecting the powerless and restraining the powerful. It is time to put people before corporations and rights before profits," said AI Secretary General Salil Shetty.


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