Human Rights Day | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 11, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:00 PM, December 11, 2016

Human Rights Day

Culture of impunity must be stopped

The country observed Human Rights Day yesterday amidst an environment that only reminded us of its violations. From abuse of power, extrajudicial killings, abductions, forced disappearances, violence against women and ethnic and religious minorities - instances of abuses and the accompanying impunity from punishment have today increased to grave proportions.

How bad is the situation? The answer is evident from Ain O Shalish Kendra's statistics: one person per day was killed in 'shootouts' only last month. At least 89 people have been victims of enforced disappearances this year. Add to that the collusion or indifference by law enforcement agencies in violent attacks such as the likes of those on the Santal community in Gaibandha or on the Hindu community in Brahmanbaria. 

At a time when militancy and communal violence are major threats to people's rights, the inactivity and sometimes, collusion by law enforcement agencies is terrifying. A report published in this paper yesterday chalked out only a handful of examples that are frightening for any citizen. Cases of 'shootouts' and enforced disappearances by law enforcement members have been on the rise. And to top it off, there has been no concerted effort to reign in or investigate these abuses. A rights activist put it succinctly, saying an environment of fear and impunity is being created. 

Let Human Rights Day be a reminder for us about the gross violations that are becoming the norm. We demand that the authorities check the activity of the enforcement agencies and investigate the role of law enforcement members in these 'disappearances', not only for the sake of justice but also for the credibility and image of these organisations. After all, where do we go if the very people entrusted to uphold our rights end up party to its violation?

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