The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) has expressed its grave concerns about the deprivation of the right to life on the pretext of "crossfire" or “shootouts” in Bangladesh. We are concerned too. The killing of Rakib Hasan Russell, one of the top three leaders of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, on February 24 needs to be convincingly explained by the involved law enforcement agency. The home secretary, in an attempt to justify Russell's death, dubbed him as a notorious criminal and stressed the importance of conducting raids for capturing militants and arms. What is, however, inexplicable is the need for killing while conducting drives.
Usually a shootout means a fight in which people shoot guns at each other until one side is defeated. The nature of shootouts in Bangladesh is also rather mystifying, where the alleged criminal is always the one who dies while the law enforcer usually emerges unscratched. As a member of the Human Rights Council since its inception, Bangladesh's recent role in the Council has been somewhat pointless as the situation of human rights keeps degenerating further. At least 40 people were killed in the name of “shootout,” police torture and secret killings in different parts of the country since January this year, according to statistics of a human rights organisation. And quite surprisingly no such incident has been addressed or investigated.
It's time for the government to clarify its stance on these killings. We want to know why it is constantly denying the demands for credible investigation of the allegations of shootouts. We have seen that whenever local and international human rights groups demanded that a high profile judicial probe commission headed by a Supreme Court judge be formed to handle such killings, the government routinely ignored the demands and simultaneously blamed "professional criminals" for the crimes. If that's the case then the government should identify and bring these so-called “professional criminals” before trial.
Killing in the name of 'shootout' by our law enforcers is a slur on the criminal justice system and social conscience in general. The culture of shootouts must be stopped.
The writer is Current Affairs Analyst, The Daily Star.