A serious question of accountability
THE High Court (HC)'s heightened concern over unabated custodial killing by the elite crime-busting outfit Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) expressed during a hearing on December 14 reflects the nation's sensitivity towards the extreme gravity of the issue.
Unfortunately, the law-enforcement unit in question did not stop even after the HC had issued a suo moto on the Director General (DG) of Rab, the home secretary and the two Rab officials purported to be involved in the killing of two brothers of Madaripur during the so called 'encounter.'
Incidentally, reports have it that some 11 people have died in custody after the highest court issued the rule on November 15. This has caused to stick a blot on the concept of rule of law including respect for human rights.
Reports compiled by different human rights group say that more than 1, 000 such killings have taken place since the inception of Rab in 2004.
In the face of serious worsening of law and order, the government of the time went for raising this special police force. All concerned had welcomed the government's decision at that time. Initially, Rab's success in arresting the reigning state of chaos and terror drew acclaim from different quarters. But with the passage of time, questions have arisen about the very propriety and legitimacy of the method being used by this force to deal with the suspects. What is particularly disconcerting is that the persons behind the killings were hardly held to account. This has bred a sense of impunity in the force.
The irony is, for all practical purposes, death penalty virtually got carried out without recourse to due process of the law thereby denying the victims their right to self-defence in a court of law. This goes against the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights enshrined in the nation's Constitution. Even the prime minister had in the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) said her government would not allow any kind of extra-judicial killing.
We, therefore, welcome the HC's role in addressing this grave issue of public interest. The human rights groups deserve commendation for the hard work they have done by bringing up these incidents of "cross-fire."
The government would do well to be heedful of the highest court's call in earnest and without further loss of time put a stop to the extra-judicial killings once and for all. For at stake here is the sense of justice, the government's image and its role as protector of law and human rights.