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Enforced disappearances

Publication Date : 17-09-2012


The matter of enforced disappearances touches the vital issue of good governance in Bangladesh, insofar as it relates to security of individuals and rule of law. The issue was once again spotlighted at an advocacy meeting on accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, organised by local rights group Odhikar and Asian Federation against Enforced Disappearances.

The matter has not only ruffled the collective conscience of the people at large in the country it has also drawn some very harsh criticisms of the government from international human rights watchdogs. For any government, most of all those that claim to adhere to the rule of law and uphold the rights of individuals, the fact that 51 persons have gone missing, and have remained untraced only between 2011 and now, should have been a cause for concern. According to Odhikar, it has documented 72 cases of enforced disappearances since 2009.

The situation has become even more awkward and sensitive because most of the disappearances have been linked to the law enforcing agencies, and most of them were allegedly picked up by elite force Rapid Action Battalion. And several of the untraced happen to be high profile persons linked to politics. The slow pace of investigation remains a worrisome issue.

We strongly echo our National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chief that the government must not display indifferent attitude on this matter. It remains the duty of the government to trace out the missing persons and resolve the mystery. We would also hope that the NHRC would be invested with adequate power and resources to institute probes on all matter of infringement of human rights. It is also our demand that the government accedes to the international convention on enforced disappearance. It is time too, we feel, that custodial torture and death in custody, as well as enforced disappearances, were made criminal offences.


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