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Human rights record embarrassing

Publication Date : 20-09-2012


Human rights reports released periodically by different rights groups have found that, while Bangladesh's situation has improved in some respects, in others, it continues to be the same and has actually worsened in certain cases. The latter is especially true with regards to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

Despite the government's supposed 'zero tolerance' policy towards extrajudicial killings and its promise to bring those responsible to justice, at least four persons were tortured in custody while two others disappeared after being picked up by members of law enforcing agencies last month alone, according to rights organisation Odhikar, which has documented 72 cases of enforced disappearance since 2009. But we are yet to see any significant instances of investigation and punishment of the culprits in such cases -- despite the fact that over half of all complaints of rights violations filed with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are against law enforcing agencies.

The government's policy seems even more ambivalent in light of the Foreign Minister's recent claim that the large population as well as periods of military rule have made it difficult to ensure human rights in the country. We take issue with the Foreign Minister's comments which border on an attempt to justify the deteriorating human rights situation and sincerely hope that the government will overcome its denial mode.

As was the demand made at a national seminar on the Universal Periodic Review by the NHRC, law enforcing agencies must be held accountable for their actions. Last week, a treasury bench MP promised to move a Private Member's bill in parliament criminalising custodial torture and enforced disappearance. We hope the government, too, will realise the urgent need to take strict measures against such blatant abuse of power by those within the justice system who have come to think that they are above the law.


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