Dhaka: Bangladeshi authorities must immediately tackle a disturbing rise in enforced disappearances over the past two years, stop the use of torture, and end their increasing crackdown on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
The briefing sets out some of the key human rights issues facing Bangladesh following the January 2014 elections, and makes recommendations to the government on issues which demand urgent attention.
“Bangladesh has made progress on reducing poverty and other development indicators but this has not been matched when it comes to respecting human rights, such as torture or removing restrictions on freedom of expression,” said Abbas Faiz of Amnesty International.
“We have also documented a disturbing trend that suggests the security forces are responsible for a continuing pattern of disappearances, even though they deny it. The government has to take a long, hard look at the conduct of its own security forces, and end the almost complete lack of accountability around these cases.”
Amnesty International said it had investigated at least 20 disappearances at the hands of state security forces in Bangladesh since 2012, but the actual number is likely to be much higher.
Of the 20 men, nine have been found dead, six have returned home after captivity lasting up to two months and five are still unaccounted for.
Many abductions appear to have been politically motivated, with prominent members of opposition parties targeted.
In several cases, witnesses point to involvement by the police or its special force, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), but there has been almost no accountability for the security forces’ alleged role, Amnesty said.
One high-profile case involved seven people who were abducted and killed by men later identified as RAB officers in Narayanganj in April 2014. Following public outcry, police arrested three RAB officers in connection with the murders but they have yet to be charged.
“The government of Bangladesh must respond to long standing calls by both national and international human rights organizations and stop torture,” said Faiz.