Bangladesh urged to stop extrajudicial killings

Amnesty said a special anti-crime force has killed at least 200 people without trial since Jan 2009.

Dhaka: An international human rights group on Wednesday accused law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh of routinely torturing suspects and carrying out hundreds of extrajudicial killings.

Amnesty International said a special anti-crime force, the Rapid Action Battalion, has killed at least 200 people without trial since January 2009, when the current government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took power. Hasina had earlier promised to end such killings.

The London-based human rights group also accused the regular police force and coast guard of extrajudicial killings.

It said it interviewed many former detainees who described being routinely tortured in custody, including beatings, food and sleep deprivation, and electric shocks.

"The Bangladesh authorities must act now and take concrete steps to protect people from the alleged unlawful killings by their security forces," the group said in a report.

It said the Rapid Action Battalion has been implicated in the deaths of at least 700 people since its formation in 2004 but no credible investigation has been carried out by the government.

"Hardly a week goes by in Bangladesh without someone being shot by RAB with the authorities saying they were killed or injured in `crossfire` or a `gunfight.` However, the fact remains that they are suspected unlawful killings," said Abbas Faiz, the group`s Bangladesh researcher.

Amnesty International said countries that supply weapons for Bangladesh`s security forces must take some responsibility for the human rights violations and should stop providing the arms.

The countries include Austria, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey and the United States, it said.

The battalion`s spokesman could not be reached for comment. Authorities usually deny that such killings are premeditated.

In May, Bangladesh rejected a similar report by New York-based Human Rights Watch that accused the battalion of torture and extrajudicial killings.

Bureau Report

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