Political violence continues to disregard to ordinary citizens` human rights in Bangladesh by extra judicial killings, torture in custody, and allegedly disappearing people from different parts of the country by the law enforcement agencies. Violence against minority community is very common and freedom of expression is almost absent during the ruling government led by Bangladesh Awami League (BAL). Even, tolerance of people with different views is reduced to zero level.
Enforced disappearance is an atrocious violation of human rights. It affects victims in many ways, including constant fear for their lives, their families go through an emotional roller coaster of hope and despair and waiting for news that might never come. The disappeared person, indeed, is completely deprived of the protection of national and international legal instruments. According to the reports of some national and international human rights monitoring organizations, the volume of enforced disappearance has been alarming in the recent years in the Bangladesh. The surfacing of the crime as a grave security concern in the Bangladesh provides a reasonable justification of this study (what kind of study is it?). The paper presents a critical analysis on the existing legal and institutional functions in the country relating to the practice of enforced disappearance.
Violation of human rights was a practice in the country from long time ago. For example, Pakistani Army brutally suppressed the aspirations of the Bengali people when the then Awami league secured a landmark victory in the Pakistan’s first elections in 1970. That discrimination led toward the East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, for its independence in 1971 as a result of millions of people dead, raping, and refugees. But, in the end, after a swift Indian invasion, Bangladesh was free from the brutality of Pakistani rule, but faced an almost impossible task to rebuild a country that was already desperately poor in a land prone to flooding and cyclones.
Yet, Bangladesh has achieved much in its 44 years of independence. For that, we can only be grateful. But, unfortunately, the country continues to be wracked by human rights violations. The country’s “Rapid Action Battalion” was formed to stem crime in the country was a cause for hundreds of cases of torture and extra judicial executions. As a result, police or law enforcement agencies became oppressive instead of giving safety to the people when they need.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party and its allies swept to power in a national election in January 5 in 2014 where key opposition parties refused to participate demanding for creating a level playing field for all parties under a neutral caretaker government. However, BAL did not care the opposition demand, even, the attempt of the United Nations in order to resolve the political stalemate in the country. Later, the BAL after coming to the power started taking action against the opposition by killing their leaders and activists, forced disappearance of around 300 people.
The trend toward increasing restrictions on civil society continued with the government was introducing a draft bill that imposes restrictions on already beleaguered nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and their access to foreign funding. The government also introduced a new media policy that imposes unacceptable limits on free expression and speech.
Security forces carried out abductions, killings, and arbitrary arrests, particularly targeting opposition leaders and supporters. In a positive development, after years of impunity for the security forces, several members of the notorious Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were arrested following the abduction and apparent contract killings of seven people in May.
The European Parliament recent statement about the human rights situation of Bangladesh:
– having regard to its previous resolutions on Bangladesh,
Having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Partnership and Development,
– having regard to Art. 33 and 35 of the Constitution of Bangladesh which stipulate that no person shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment or treatment and that no person shall be arrested or detained in custody without being informed of the grounds for such arrest,
– having regard to the Ruling of the Supreme Court which laid down safeguard measures against arbitrary arrests by the police under section 54 of CrPC, which also requires that any death incidents occurring in police custody is enquired by a magistrate and necessary legal proceedings undertaken,
Having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
– having regard to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted resolutions 62/149 and 63/168, calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty
– having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,
Whereas the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) has announced a “zero tolerance” policy towards any violation of human rights by the law enforcing agencies, enacted a Police Reform Act including a code of conduct, model police stations and victim support centre’s in key police stations;
Whereas the GOB has announced that in collaboration with ICRC it is carrying out advocacy and training programmers for law enforcing agencies and prison authorities on international safeguards against torture;
Disappearances, the use of torture and other ill-treatment persist in Bangladesh despite safeguards in the Constitution, the Penal Code and the Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Act, as well as restrictions on the right to freedom of expression;
The Rapid Action Battalion, created 10 years ago as an emergency measure, to counter threats to security from militant groups, comprises both military and police, effectively bringing the army into civilian law enforcement without any transparent accountability mechanisms.
Independent human rights organizations allege that RAB is responsible for some 800 deaths with no prosecutions or punishment of officers responsible; Apart from recent arrests of several RAB members in a suspected contract killing of a ruling party politician, other egregious abuses go unpunished; The government has adopted new policies to cure freedom of expression and to restrict media freedom; the policy provides little guidance on what is permitted content and contains overly vague language; the government is planning to introduce a legislative frame work through which to enforce the policy.
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