According to a local rights organisation, extrajudicial killings crested in the outgoing year, the highest number in our history. The spike can be attributed to the government's anti-drug drives, which resulted in nearly 300 deaths, mostly of petty drug peddlers and dealers. Other forms of alleged human rights violations such as enforced disappearance, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and abduction have gone on, disturbingly, in tandem.
This paints a grim picture of the overall human rights situation in the country. By any standard, the fact that as many as 466 people were killed in crossfire and police custody is extremely worrisome. That these people were not given the chance for a fair trial undermines the rule of law. Furthermore, it erodes public faith and confidence in the judicial and law enforcing system.
As we have stated repeatedly, the law enforcing agencies should not act as the judge, jury and executioner. What's even more distressing is the fact that many victims of the alleged extrajudicial killings were members of the opposition parties. Often, the official explanation given by the law enforcement agencies directly contradicts the statement of the family members and the witnesses.
The Awami League government, in its third consecutive term in power, should address the disturbing issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance. While tackling and preventing crime should be the top priority of the law enforcing agencies, they should not take measures that, in themselves, are in breach of law.
The ruling party has renewed its promise to ensure rule of law and good governance after assuming office for the third term. It can start by taking a stern position to stop serious rights abuses like extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance. Only then, its attempt to curb other violations and deliver good governance will succeed.