Enforced disappearance has become very common in the country nowadays that some people remain missing for days after days, years after years. In most cases, law enforcement agencies fail to find the victims' traces and the most unfortunate thing is, these agencies themselves are alleged to be involved in enforced disappearance. Though the government has denied involvement of the law enforcement agencies in the disappearances, the victims' families often point their finger at the agencies. Many witnesses speak of their relatives being picked up by people in uniform, and sometimes by plainclothes men.
When enforced disappearances take place, not only the victim's life gets affected by it, but also the lives of their family members break in pieces. The long wait and concern of a family of a victim of enforced disappearance never end. According to the Constitution of Bangladesh, right to life is a fundamental right and that right cannot be violated. It is extremely alarming that Bangladesh is experiencing that violation frequently. According to Ain O Shalish Kendra (ASK), at least 519 people reportedly became victims of enforced disappearance between 2010 to mid 2017. Among those people, fates of 329 are still unknown and there is no visible sign to stop enforced disappearances. It is very frightening that not only the law enforcing agencies are inactive to stop this heinous crime, but also very reluctant to reveal the truth. Rights organisations and the victims' families have organised press conferences, staged peaceful demonstrations to press home their demands for getting their loved ones back, but to no avail. That depicts the state's clear failure to provide due security to its citizens. And incidents of enforced disappearances are still taking place because of a culture of impunity. In case of enforced disappearance, the law enforcers allegedly detain individual(s) without any warrant of arrest from any court of law. Even there is allegation that they don't inform the ground(s) for arrest.
Though our National Human Rights Commission is a state statutory body, it has not been able to play an active role in this regard. No one wants to see that any of his/her beloved ones has fallen victim to enforced disappearance. The government should do more than just issue denials. It is bound to ensure security and safety of life and property of every citizen under the constitution. People have remained untraceable for so long, and mere refutation cannot be the end of the matter. Doesn't the state have a responsibility towards its citizens, and concern for the anguish of the families of the victims? It is now on the authorities to remove the blemish on the law enforcing agencies. If the allegations are false, then they should find out the real culprits and bring them to book.
The writer is an Assistant Director, Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management (BIGM).