Blood will have blood | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 22, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:47 AM, June 22, 2016

News Analysis

Blood will have blood

Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon yesterday rightly described the death of militant suspects in so-called "crossfire" and "gun battle" as weakness and failure of the law-enforcement agencies.

Speaking in a discussion on the proposed budget in parliament, he also echoed many others' views that such extrajudicial killings are not a solution to rising militancy.

His remarks have merit as the extrajudicial killings by the law enforcers in last 12 years could not ensure sustainable improvement in law and order. People do not feel safer more than they were 12 years ago.

Extrajudicial killings of some criminals or militant suspects may bring a temporary respite. But the vacuum created after their deaths is filled up with emergence of new criminals and militants.

Exercise of unlawful means by the law enforcers also damages their morale and destroys their efficacy and professionalism. They prefer a shortcut solution to any problems -- like killings -- instead of unearthing through investigation the reasons behind any crime or law and order slide.

It also creates a very dangerous situation when the law enforcers themselves prefer not to abide by the law. Therefore, unlawful killings are proved as an ineffective means to ensure people's safety. We are exactly facing such a situation in Bangladesh.

Extrajudicial killings by the law enforcers had initially been considered as a necessary and short-term expedient during the past BNP-led government to improve law and order in 2004.

This was revealed by the then second-in-command of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) during a June 2005 conversation with some US embassy officials in Dhaka, according to a US diplomatic dispatch from Dhaka.

They had met Chowdhury Fazlul Bari, additional director general of Rab, to get some insights into the situation following domestic and international outcry against the unlawful killings by the law-enforcement agencies including Rab since 2004.

The then US ambassador in Dhaka Patricia A Butenis sent the cable to Washington in April 2006, which was leaked and posted on whistleblower website WikiLeaks in 2011.

Brigadier General Bari was an influential figure during the 2007-08 tenure of military-backed caretaker regime.

What Bari described a "short-term expedient" in 2005 seems to have become a permanent practice.

On average, 150 people were killed in extrajudicial means every year in last 12 years in the name of measures to improve law and order.

But the killings of around 1,800 people that way in last 12 years could not ensure a sustainable improvement. The latest spate of secret killings has rather put people in a state of panic.

And in such a situation, the unlawful action of extrajudicial killings has been taking place in the country. As many as 14 people have so far been killed in "gunfight" this month. Of them, seven were militant suspects.

The long-term negative impact of extrajudicial killings on the country's legal system and governance is immense.

According to the existing legal system, it is the mandate of the judiciary to determine who is a criminal and who is not and punish the criminals according to the offence they have committed.

But in case of every extrajudicial killing, the country's legal system has been made redundant. The state brings down itself to the level of alleged criminals and militant suspects to punish them unlawfully, exposing a fragile state of governance.

This is acceptable nowhere in the world.

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