Human Rights Watch: HRW calls for free probe, prosecution
12:00 AM, July 07, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:52 AM, July 07, 2017

Extrajudicial Killings, Enforced Disappearances

HRW calls for free probe, prosecution

Home minister terms HRW report 'motivated'

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Security forces in Bangladesh are accused of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and secret detentions, including that of opposition activists, says Human Rights Watch.

Bangladesh's law enforcement authorities have illegally arrested and detained hundreds of people in secret detention since 2013, the HRW said in a report released yesterday.

The New York-based human rights group also urged the Bangladesh government to launch an independent investigation into these allegations and “prosecute security forces responsible for such egregious rights violations”.

At least 90 people were victims of enforced disappearance last year alone, according to the 82-page report titled, “We Don't Have Him: Secret Detentions and Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh”.

Twenty-one of the detainees were reportedly killed, it claimed.

HRW interviewed more than 100 people, including family members and witnesses, to document those cases. Details of police complaints and other legal documents were also included in the report.

“The disappearances are well-documented and reported, yet the government persists in this abhorrent practice with no regard for the rule of law,” HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said.

“Bangladeshi security forces appear to have a free hand in detaining people, deciding on their guilt or innocence, and determining their punishment, including whether they have the right to be alive.”

In the report, the global rights watchdog quoted the witnesses and family members as saying that Rapid Action Battalion or the Detective Branch (DB) of police were behind such disappearances.

Contacted, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal rejected the report, saying it was “false” and “motivated”.

"People disappear for many reasons. In many cases, they disappear over political reasons and it has been revealed during investigations.”

He claimed law enforcement agencies arrested BNP leaders following all the laws and the arrests were made on specific allegations.

The HRW report said 48 people have already been reported missing in the first five months of this year. But the government has so far denied the involvement of security forces in the incidents. There are allegations of severe torture and ill-treatment while in secret custody.

The HRW findings are similar to that of local rights organisation Ain o Salish Kendra that claimed at least 97 people became victims of enforced disappearance last year. The ASK also said 44 people were picked up by plainclothes men between January and June this year. Of them, only seven returned, two were found dead and three others were shown arrested. The rest are missing.

None of the law enforcement agencies admitted their role in picking up any of the people, the ASK report said.

The HRW report also mentioned about the disappearance of 19 BNP activists. They were picked up by law enforcement authorities in eight separate incidents over a two-week period in or around Dhaka in the weeks before the January 2014 elections.

Witnesses said eight of the 19 men were taken by RAB, six by DB, and the rest by unknown security forces, according to the report.

The 90 cases of enforced disappearances include three sons of prominent opposition politicians who were picked up for several weeks in August 2016. One of them was released after six months of secret detention, while the other two still remain disappeared.

Law enforcement authorities repeatedly deny the arrests, with government officials backing these claims, often by suggesting that the men are in hiding voluntarily.

The watchdog also said the Bangladesh government should invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN experts concerned to investigate these allegations and make appropriate recommendations to ensure justice, accountability, and security force reform.

“The Bangladesh government is making a habit of complete disregard for human rights, human life, and the rule of law,” Adams said. “The government doesn't even bother denying these abuses, instead remaining silent and relying on silence from the international community in return. This silence needs to end.”

The link of the HRW report: https:// www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/06/bangladesh-end-disappearances-and-secret-det...

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