The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has observed that the government should prosecute members of law enforcement agencies found responsible for "unlawful killings, torture and other human rights abuses".
In a report published today, it alleged that the law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh carried out extrajudicial executions,
have been behind forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and unlawful destruction of private property.
In the report titled “Democracy in the Crossfire: Opposition Violence and Government Abuses in the 2014 Pre-and Post-Election Period in Bangladesh,” the HRW also blamed both the government and the rival political parties for the violence centring on the January 5 elections.
After the elections, security forces unlawfully arrested opposition leaders, naming them as suspects in violent attacks, according to the report.
The report says researchers documented the killing or unlawful arrests of 19 opposition leaders and activists surrounding the polls. In nine of the killings, authorities claimed that the victims were killed in “crossfire” during gunfights between the security forces and armed criminals.
In all nine cases, there is strong reason to question the official account, the HRW said.
In several of the alleged crossfire cases, witnesses said the killed person had been detained hours or days earlier, contradicting government claims, the report mentioned.
Security forces have little credibility when they simply claim that suspects die in crossfire, as they have regularly invoked the “killed in crossfire” explanation to justify what the evidence later showed to be cold-blooded executions of detainees or suspects.
“In particular, the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) has committed systematic human rights violations with impunity since its founding in 2004, which contributes directly to the culture of ongoing abuses,” the report states.
The rights watchdog urged to government to disband the Rab and replace it with a fully accountable civilian law enforcement agency dedicated to fighting crime and terrorism.
“The Bangladeshi government needs to stop protecting its security forces, and make good on public pronouncements of zero tolerance for impunity,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of the HRW.
To this end, the HRW urged the government to establish an independent, external body to conduct prompt, impartial, and independent investigations into all allegations of violations by law enforcement agencies including the police, Rab, and Border Guards Bangladesh.
OPPOSITION BLAMED FOR POLLS VIOLENCE
Quoting Bangladeshi human rights organisations, the HRW said hundreds were killed and injured in violent attacks surrounding the controversial elections.
The 64-page report says opposition party members and activists on numerous occasions carried out petrol bomb attacks and sometimes forced children to carry out the attacks.
For the report, the HRW interviewed more than 120 people, including victims, their family members, and eyewitnesses and they blamed the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami activists for some of the attacks.
The rights body called upon the government to investigate all attacks on religious minorities and prosecute the perpetrators.