We are deeply disturbed by yet another incident of police torture on a staff of Dhaka South City Corporation, in the same week that allegations of police brutality against a Bangladeshi Bank (BB) official made the headlines. According to the victim, who was out early in the morning to inspect road cleaning work, and cleaners, who were eye-witnesses to the incident, the policemen beat the official, and hit him with their rifles. The OC of the concerned police station has claimed that there was a “misunderstanding” and that his subordinates “might have mistaken” the victim as a mugger. This is highly unlikely since the official had an ID card and his motorcycle a DSCC sticker; but even if we accept the OC's rationale, are we to believe that the police can torture anybody they suspect to be a criminal, in violation of the law and constitutional guarantees of this country?
Torture by law enforcement agencies is becoming a disturbing norm, one whose seriousness becomes evident in the fact that even government officials are not being spared from it. As we well know, countless incidents of torture and police brutality never make the headlines, as their victims are ordinary citizens who are too afraid of the repercussions of publicly challenging the law enforcers. Exposing the felonious law enforcers poses added risks to the victims, as evidenced by the “indirect threats” against BB officials to refrain from seeking legal actions against his torturers.
We urge the government to ensure a culture where victims do not feel threatened to expose the criminals, and one in which they receive due justice for the violation of their civic rights.