Please, show minimum respect for human
It is very painful to see a police personnel kicking a person as seen
in the photo while he is the one who is entrusted to ensure the fundamental
human rights for the latter. The conduct of the police is incompatible
with human norms, Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the
fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Such behaviour by
the police denies the very basic rights, i.e. right to be treated according
to law, right to dignity and right to get justice. The person being
kicked by police might have been an activist of the main opposition,
Awami League who, the police complained, threw a bomb that left a police
personnel injured. But are they the authority to judge the offence?
The duty of the police is to arrest the miscreants and hand them over
to the court of law for trial. It is the court only that is entrusted
to judge the offence of a person. So this excuse on the part of the
police does not substantiate their inhuman act. It is a clear violation
of all international human rights documents and the Constitution.
Constitution of Bangladesh (part 3) guarantees some basic civil and
political rights. Among them, the right to protection of law, right
to get justice by impartial court or tribunal, right to dignity, right
to equality are worth mentioning. The Constitution provides that everyone
should be treated in accordance with the law and no action detrimental
to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any citizen or
any resident shall be taken except in accordance with law (Art 31).
Now, the question is -- what does 'in accordance with law' mean? In
a lay man's view, it means that the matter will be investigated, the
person who committed the offence will be arrested and finally produced
before the court of law for trial. If anybody threw a bomb to the police,
as it's been claimed, they should have investigated the matter and then
arrested the person to produce him before the court instead of taking
the law into their own hands. Kicking a person or beating a person by
police is not consistent with the term "in accordance with law".
This Article 31 has much wider consequences than that of "American
Due Process". No action inconsistent with this provision can be
taken by the law enforcers. Part three of the Constitution, which guarantees
the basic rights of the people is the most important part of the Constitution
and these rights are judicially enforceable. It is the constitutional
duty of every person to abide by the constitutional provision. The police
must not be oblivious of the Constitutional provision which begins by
saying that 'it is the solemn declaration of the common people'. Any
deviation from this part will be termed as violation of the Constitution.
This is not the
first time police has acted in such a manner. There have been numerous
allegations of maltreatment by police resulting in custodial death.
Two persons, one in Chittagong and other in Dhaka died in the police
custody only few months ago, though a Supreme Court directive prohibits
any interrogation in the police custody except in presence of a relative
of the victim. But sadly the direction by the court has hardly been
followed. We also frequently say that the conduct by the police is not
consistent with the law. But in reality it seems that the police can
do whatever they please, showing any respect for the law.
Lack of awareness
among the police of the basic human rights of the citizens is simply
not acceptable. I think police have already realised that in this country
no one will be punished even if they commit any offence like beating
or kicking an opposition activist. They are also well acquainted with
the fact that there is none to question them as to why they kicked a
man on the street in lieu of bringing him to book. Actually this is
the result of failure of whole law and order system. Using the police
force for political gain paves the way for them to abuse their power
or exercise their power arbitrarily. Police know that serving the government's
interest is more necessary than protecting human rights or human dignity.
The Government itself did not seem respectful for the basic human rights
of the people when they let the joint forces go unpunished after allegedly
killing more than forty lives during operation clean heart.
The violation of
human rights by the police has not been a new phenomenon. But today
they do not show the minimum respect for human rights. On the other
hand we are yet to see the formation of an independent human rights
commission to investigate the incidents of violation of human rights.
The human rights organisations also restrict their activities in just
compiling list of incidents of human rights violation, persons died
in the hands of the law enforcing authority every year. Unfortunately
there has not been a concerted effort on their part to strongly raise
the issue of forming a human rights commission. It is also worth noting
that our Constitution does not mention whether violation of constitutional
provision is an offence. The court could only ask the government to
ensure the fundamental rights of the people in response to writ petition
brought by a person. Therefore, it is time to think whether Constitutional
amendment is necessary to declare its violation as an offence.
Rahman is a Legal Researcher.