04/02/2018 16:18 08/12/2015 9:26
THE continuing saga of enforced disappearance of individuals allegedly at the hands of law enforcement agencies should send chills down the spine of all citizens and organisations that aspire for a democratic nation. According to various human rights organisations, 59 people had been forcibly disappeared, , allegedly by law enforcement agencies in January–November. While previous reports revealed that at least 124 people fell victim to enforced disappearance reportedly at the hands of law enforcers between January 2014 and July 2015, with a substantial percentage of disappeared individuals being affiliated with opposition parties. All this points to a trend of crushing dissent, by any means necessary, by the incumbents using the law enforcement agencies, which shows a dangerous move away from democracy. According to rights organisations, families of the disappeared individuals had appealed to the government and judicial authorities to locate their dear ones repeatedly without any luck. Not only did they not receive any assistance in finding any information regarding the whereabouts of the disappeared persons but, also, in many cases, they received official denials, neglect and intimidation. In fact, many of the press conferences, protest rallies and human chains demanding the return of the disappeared victims had been dealt with by repeated threats to the relatives and subsequent surveillance by state agents, according to rights organisations. According to a Hong Kong and Philippines-based rights organisation, ‘the same patterns of disappearance were systematically being used by the state as a tool to silence and weaken its political opponents’. Rights groups also observed that the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are being curtailed by applying draconian laws, saying that the ‘situation in Bangladesh has become extremely repressive’, as the government ‘does not allow opposition parties and dissenting voices to speak out against its undemocratic and anti-human rights actions’. Moreover, they expressed their concerns regarding the continuing failure to hold the accused agencies and the executive authorities accountable for their involvement in enforced disappearances, as it can only increase public distrust in the justice delivery system. The government needs to realise that its tactic of enforced disappearances as well as the increasing trend of extrajudicial murder through forcible detention is reminiscent of dictatorial rule in different parts of the world using similar tactics to curtail both political opposition and to suppress any form of dissent. Apart from that, it must also realise that such actions are in complete violation of the constitution which ensures people’s right to defend themselves in a court of law and to the rule of law. Under the circumstances, the incumbents must stop using such draconian tactics to squash dissent and, instead, work towards establishing the rule of law according to the constitution. Conscious sections of society must also raise their voice to bring an end to this practice.
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