Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader today said the lawmakers who demanded "crossfire" for the rapists expressed their personal opinions in parliament.
“They expressed their own opinions, that is not the stance of their parties or the government,” Quader said at a press briefing regarding contemporary issues held at his office at the secretariat in Dhaka.
Also read: Kill rapists in ‘crossfire’
“I was abroad when the MPs placed their demand (crossfire for rapists). Later I saw online that they demanded such measures to stop rape incidents,” Quader said.
During the parliamentary session on Tuesday, some senior lawmakers including Awami League MP Tofail Ahmed, opposition Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu and JP MP Kazi Firoz Rashid, demanded that the law enforcement agencies kill rapists in "crossfire” to stop rape incidents, which have increased alarmingly in recent times. Coming from both the treasury and the opposition benches, they also called on the government to amend the existing law to incorporate a provision for the death penalty for rapists.
Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu pointed to the "use of crossfire killings" during the anti-drug drives and suggested amending the law in favour of the death penalty.
"You are allowing crossfire as part of a fight against drugs. Then why aren’t you doing the same in case of rape?”
The MPs also urged the Speaker to set a date to discuss how to end the scourge of rape and why such incidents have lately shot up.
Human rights defenders and national as well as international watchdogs have condemned extrajudicial killings in so-called crossfires, which claimed 335 lives in 2019 and 412 in 2018.
About the MPs’ call, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, “It is appalling to say the least, except the only silver lining that they distinctly acknowledge from the floor of the parliament that extrajudicial killings are taking place in the country.
“From the point of human rights, rule of law and justice, there can be hardly any worse news. Everyone wants rapists to be brought to justice through exemplary punishment."