Custodial deaths continue in B`desh: Report
Last Updated: Sunday, October 03, 2010, 13:38
Dhaka: A leading Bangladeshi rights group on Sunday said that it has recorded a custodial death in every three days on an average during the past nine months despite a parliamentary notice and High Court orders asking government to explain the extra-judicial killings.

"Ninety extra judicial killings took place from January to June 2010," claimed the rights group 'Odhikar' in a report published today.

It claimed that 40 of the victims were killed by elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), 33 by police and eight were killed in joint operations by RAB and the police while it held responsible paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel and Coastguards for the rests of the deaths.

The report published in newspapers said 71 of the victims were killed either in "crossfire or encounters" ? the terms used by law enforcement agencies allegedly to evade responsibilities of custody deaths or extra-judicial killings, attributing them on gunfights between criminals or gangsters and the lawmen.

Most of the RAB press releases issued after such killings claimed that the alleged criminal died in crossfire during shootouts between the law enforcement agency men and his fellow gangsters who tried to free him attacking the security forces during raids at their hideouts.

"The election manifesto of the incumbent government had strongly pledged to stop extrajudicial killings while the foreign minister also reaffirmed the 'zero tolerance' against such acts in several international forums, but we see the trend of custody deaths to be on the rise... this is not good for democracy," Odhikar secretary Adilur Rahman Khan said.

The Odhikar report came days after another rights group Ain O Shalish Kendra made public an identical study saying 95 people were killed during the same period.

The parliamentary standing committee on Home Ministry in July this year demanded a police explanation on three deaths in their custody, days after the High Court ordered government investigations into the incidents that took place in the previous two week.

"The matter is serious and so we have asked police to brief us about the complaints," Committee chairman and ruling Awami League lawmaker Abdus Salam said at a time when the country's former police chief Nur Mohammad told the committee that a departmental investigation was underway on the reported custody deaths.

Meanwhile, the widespread protests prompted Dhaka Metropolitan Police to issue a 12-point directive recently on all its personnel to stop custodial death and violation of fundamental and human rights in custody.

The rights groups also fear the figure could be much higher as many of such deaths were never reported or kept secret both by police and RAB forces.


First Published: Sunday, October 03, 2010, 13:38

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