Custodial deaths continue in B`desh: Report

A leading Bangladeshi rights group said that it has recorded a custodial death in every three days on an average during the past nine months.

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.


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