Human rights activists at a programme have said that forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, custodial torture and deaths have become everyday incidents in Bangladesh while expressing their grave concerns regarding the issues.
In June this year, 33 people were victims of extrajudicial killing. Three of them died of physical torture before and after the arrest.
"Forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, custodial torture and deaths have become everyday incidents in Bangladesh and institutions concerned have failed to play due roles," said human rights activist and General Secretary of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Md Noor Khan.
At a meeting titled "Torture situation in Bangladesh: Problems to Ensure Justice to Victims and Their Families" organised by ASK on Saturday, Noor Khan also said, "People who would not be much vocal against such issues are appointed in the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh. In such an adverse situation, a coordinated effort is required to ensure rights to the victims and their families,"
ASK Executive Director Golam Monowar Kamal said torture was declared illegal in Bangladesh after its independence in 1971, long before the UN Charter against Torture had been signed. Article 35 (5) of the Constitution of Bangladesh states that no person shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
However, allegations of physical and mental torture by members of the police, police intelligence, RAB, or other state law enforcement agencies during interrogation after arrest are reported in the media, he added.
Nina Goswami, director (Programmes) of ASK, presented the current situation of torture and deaths in custody and ASK's observations on it.
She said most of the time the victims or their families did not dare to take legal recourse for their safety. Those who have filed a case with courage are being harassed and threatened at various levels and are facing various obstacles in the way of getting justice.
Mohammad Golam Sarwar, assistant professor at Dhaka University, said the Torture and Death in Custody Act 2013 is a very good law that has been formulated in the light of the constitution and the UN Charter against Torture but its proper implementation is not being ensured.
There is talk of an investigation and reporting within a certain period, but it is not being done and there is no explanation as to why it is not being done. Points to be noted that the police have been assigned to investigate the incidents of torture, he added.
In that case, it is not possible to ensure impartiality. So, the UN Committee of Inquiry recommended the establishment of an independent inquiry in 2019, which has so far made no progress, Golam Sarwar said further.
Further recommendations made during the discussions were to ensure transparency and accountability within the law enforcement agencies to stop crime and to take legal action against those involved, through departmental investigations as well as impartial investigations.
Other recommendations include following the directions of the High Court in every case of detention and arrest to stop torture and murder, to ensure justice by forming an independent and impartial commission to investigate all allegations of disappearances, abductions and extrajudicial killings so far and to empower the commission to implement its mandate.
Among others, ZI Khan Panna, advocate at the Bangladesh Supreme Court and former chairperson of ASK; Md Asaduzzaman, advocate at the Bangladesh Supreme Court and member of ASK Executive Committee; and Abu Saeed Khan, a journalist, writer, and columnist; were present at the meeting.