Friday, October 15, 2004

Bangladesh: RAB and extra-judicial killings - the Heat is ON

[Rab is not only violating the constitution, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and police ordinance but also human rights through extra-judicial killings either in custody or in 'crossfire' in most of the cases, the groups alleged. "The stereotyped explanations on the 33 killings in Rab actions until yesterday remind us of the 56 killings in the Operation Clean Heart when law-enforcing agencies claimed the victims died of heart attack," said a statement Sultana Kamal read out at the press conference. "Passage of the indemnity ordinance in 2003 (after Operation Clean Heart) deprives us of justice in cases of the killings," she said. "We are horrified by the current trend of killings and anticipating future legal status of such killings."]

Rab accused of extra-judicial killings, violation of constitution

Rights groups demand trial of law enforcers


Rights groups yesterday accused the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) of violating the constitution, laws to deal with crimes and human rights through extra-judicial killings in custody and 'crossfire.'

They also put forward a five-point demand to ensure trial of the killings by the law- enforcement agencies and put an end to their human-rights violation.

At a press conference in Dhaka yesterday, leaders of the organisations alleged the amendments to the Armed Police Battalion Ordinance 1979 created a scope for making political gains.

The amendments empowered Rab to conduct intelligence operations on crimes and incidents related to crimes and investigate any case when the government orders, the rights bodies said. But the amendments did not give the elite anticrime force authority to investigate any case; instead, the force is to probe only the government-assigned cases, they stressed.

The groups include Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (Blast), Nijera Kori, Karmajibi Nari, Jatiya Ainjibi Parishad and Naripakkhya.

Rab is not only violating the constitution, Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and police ordinance but also human rights through extra-judicial killings either in custody or in 'crossfire' in most of the cases, the groups alleged.

They also expressed concern at the killing of the innocent people like Mohammad Ali and Sumon Majumder.

"The stereotyped explanations on the 33 killings in Rab actions until yesterday remind us of the 56 killings in the Operation Clean Heart when law-enforcing agencies claimed the victims died of heart attack," said a statement Sultana Kamal read out at the press conference.

"Passage of the indemnity ordinance in 2003 (after Operation Clean Heart) deprives us of justice in cases of the killings," she said. "We are horrified by the current trend of killings and anticipating future legal status of such killings."

Rab shot writer Ali dead in the open for housing a criminal and Sumon, a major witness to the killing of lawmaker Ahsanullah Master, died several hours after his arrest as an extortionist.

Killings of criminals are also hampering probe to find out 'godfathers' and their hideouts, the rights bodies said.

Their demands include fair investigation of all killings in police custody, compensation to family members of the victims, compliance with higher court directives concerning the constitution, laws, arrest and remand, and accountability of the law-enforcing agencies.

They also asked the government to ensure accountability of all government agencies and their activities and not to make any move or comments which might make the agencies think they are indemnified and beyond the reach of the law.

Replying to a query, Sultana Kamal said they are not against Rab but against their activities that violate human rights. The situation is going out of control, she added.

Asked if they plan to sue Rab, she said they are yet to decide on this matter but the victims' families are eager to file cases.

Thirty-three people died from police torture last year, 23 in the first six months of this year and 30 between June 21 and September 30.

Farida Yasmin of Blast, Rezanur Rahman Rose of Nijera Kori, Sofia Ahmed of Karmajibi Nari, Abdus Salam of Jatiya Ainjibi Parishad and Ferdousi Akther of Naripakkhya also spoke at the press conference.

Daily Star 14/10/2004