Highest ever Bangladesh's extrajudicial killings in 2018: ASK
12:00 AM, January 11, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:24 AM, January 11, 2019

Rights Situation in 2018: 'Extremely alarming'

ASK finds the year saw rise in extrajudicial killing, abduction and enforced disappearance

The overall human rights situation in the country was extremely alarming last year, Ain o Salish Kendra has said.

Extrajudicial killing, abduction and enforced disappearance continued throughout 2018, with a record 466 deaths in crossfire and in police custody, the rights body said in its analysis of last year's rights situation in the country.

In 2017, at least 162 people fell victim to such killings.

The analysis found that although economic as well as social and cultural rights -- two key human rights indicators -- have seen improvements, the situation of citizen rights and political rights has not improved as expected.

Riding on the increase in the per capita income and economic growth, Bangladesh moved to the status of a developing nation from a least developed country last year. The country also went three notches up in the UNDP's global human development index, it said.

But incidents of extrajudicial killing, particularly in the anti-drug drives, were alarming.

Since the drive began in May, at least 292 people were killed in “shootouts” with law enforcers till December 30, the report said.    

Also alarming was illegal detention and mass arrest, the ASK said in the analysis, presented at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters' Unity yesterday.

“The highest number of extrajudicial killings took place in 2018 compared with any other year, which is very much regrettable and abominable,” ASK Executive Director Sheepa Hafiza said.

“We want investigations into all extrajudicial killings,” she said.

ABDUCTION, ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE 

Abduction and enforced disappearance allegedly involving law enforcers spread panic among the public.

Citing media reports, the rights body said that at least 34 people fell victim to abduction and enforced disappearance. They were picked up by people who identified themselves as law enforcers.

Of them, 19 were later found, and most of them are now behind bars. The rest are still traceless.

For example, a man named Mohon Mia was picked up from his house in the capital's Mirpur on June 10. The family filed a general diary over his disappearance, but there is no trace of him still today, the report said. 

POLITICAL VIOLENCE, LAW AND ORDER

Violence centring on the December 30 election, attacks on opposition candidates and obstructions to their campaign also made news headlines.

Between the date of announcement of the election schedule and the voting day, some 470 incidents of violence took place.

At least 34 people were killed in these incidents -- 19 Awami League men, four BNP supporters, one Ansar member and 10 general people.

In addition, a number of candidates, their supporters and even journalists were beaten on the polling day.

On the night of December 30, a mother of four was beaten up and raped in Noakhali by a group of AL supporters for voting for the candidate of her choice, the report said.  

In all, some 67 people were killed in 701 incidents of political violence last year. Another 7,287 were injured in these clashes between law enforcers and political parties, infighting, and clashes between political rivals.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS SITUATION  

Incidents of rape, sexual assault and violence against women and children were also high.

At least 732 women were raped. Of them, 63 were killed after rape while seven died by suicide after rape. In 2017, 818 women fell victim to rape, according to the report.

As many as 173 women were sexually assaulted last year, down from 255 in 2017. Eight of them killed themselves, while 12 people, including three women, were killed in attacks for protesting such incidents.

On the other hand, at least 85 women were killed over dowry, while 409 were victims of domestic violence.

"We haven't seen any effective trial and punishment. This is why these crimes are recurring," said Sheepa Hafiza.

Joint efforts by the government and the people are needed to create a culture of human rights in the country, she added.

CHILD TORTURE AND KILLING

A total of 1,011 children were victims of torture and killing last year.

Of them, 283 were murdered, 108 killed themselves, and 28 died in mysterious circumstances.

Also, there were 444 cases of sexual assault, rape, and harassment of children in 2018.

The figures were 565 in 2017 and 415 in 2016.

REPRESSION ON RELIGIOUS MINORITIES

Hindu people came under attack in different parts of the country centring on the national election.

As many as 97 idols in different temples were vandalised and 29 houses were attacked, vandalised and set on fire, the report said.

On December 15, miscreants set fire to the houses of four Hindu families in Alampur village of Feni.

REPRESSION ON JOURNALISTS

Freedom of expression, though a constitutional right, has also been curbed on several occasions, ASK said, adding that the Digital Security Act might further limit freedom of expression.

As many as 207 journalists faced repression and assaults by law enforcers, influential people, local representatives, criminals, political activists and government officials while performing their duty. The number was 122 in 2017.

Three journalists died at the hands of criminals.

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