According to Amnesty International, Bangladesh is one of the countries with the highest number of executions in the Asia Pacific region.
Bangladesh was ranked third in the world in terms of executions in 2015, as per a report published by the same agency.
The death sentence is so normalised here that it is demanded in Bangladesh for anything from blasphemy to rape, corruption, fraud, money laundering, and deaths in traffic accidents.
Article 31 of the constitution states that no action damaging to a person's life, liberty, body, reputation, or property shall be conducted unless the law authorises it.
Again, Article 32 of the Constitution states that no one's life or personal liberty can be taken away unless done in compliance with the law.
According to a study conducted by Dhaka University in collaboration with the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust on the Death Penalty Project 2019-20, roughly 101 persons have been executed since 1991, with the number of executions increasing dramatically since the turn of the century.
Following the survey, most respondents were dissatisfied with the inquiry process, and 33% of interviewees claimed that inmates were tortured while in prisons.
60% of the respondents were unsatisfied with the trial process, with some claiming that the judges did not fully comprehend the facts. On top of that, there is no way to save an innocent person who has been executed by mistake.
The study found that the High Court Division disposed of cases where death sentences are confirmed, on average, after more than ten years.
The death penalty is the highest form of punishment in several countries. Public executions are carried out in some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. It is said that the death penalty creates deterrence in society against criminal activity.
However, can the death sentence curb crime in society as a punishment? Scholarly literature suggests that the inclination to offend after punishment has not been lowered in any country.
On the other hand, the United Kingdom, various states in the United States, and Scandinavian countries in Europe are examples of countries without death sentences but significantly lower crime rates.
Furthermore, even if all perpetrators are sentenced to death, the crime will continue if no action is taken to address the underlying causes rooted in the social structure.
But we still adhere to colonial law, which mandates the death penalty as its maximum punishment. Over and above, the British overlords who enacted this law deleted it from their regulations, and the death penalty was no longer their maximum punishment.
As of now, our judicial system and state apparatus have failed to present an alternative to incarceration or the death penalty to the public.
The conventional wisdom suggests that more offenders being imprisoned or executed equals better chances of reducing crime.
The death penalty is widely viewed as the most fundamental infringement of human rights in today's world as it violates one of the most fundamental elements of human rights law, which compels states to protect the right to life.
A Special Session of the UN General Assembly has urged for the death penalty to be abolished. Human rights organisations agreed that carrying it out violates basic human rights principles since the death penalty represents cruel, ruthless, or degrading punishment.
Moreover, in imitation of Article 25 of the Constitution, Bangladesh's international relations must be based on respect for international law and the ideals expressed in the United Nations Charter.
Also, humanitarian law is recognised in Article 47 of the Constitution, which states that the Constitution does not limit the execution of international treaties or laws of war.
As a result, albeit not officially stated, these provisions indicate respect for international human rights. However, the death sentence is being phased out in several countries worldwide.
In conformity with Amnesty International, the death penalty has been abolished in 107 nations. Withal, over eighty countries do not apply the death sentence.
In Bangladesh, there is no organisation dedicated to an anti-death penalty campaign. The Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust and the Ain o Salish Kendra have discussed the subject on occasion.
Because of occurrences such as the execution of innocent people, there has been an international campaign to abolish the death sentence.
There are also numerous cases where minorities and members of ethnic, racial, political, and religious groups have also been sentenced to the death penalty for political gains.
The death sentence diminishes human dignity, which is inherent in all people. The International Day Against the Death Penalty observed on October 10 each year, unites the global abolitionist movement and mobilises civil society, political leaders, attorneys, the public, and others to support the call for the universal abolition of capital punishment.
Bangladesh and its criminal justice system must come up with alternatives for a more effective strategy to deter crime instead of just imposing the death sentence to keep up with the rest of the world.
Additionally, every crime should be viewed from the lens of finding a remedy instead of punishments if we are to achieve natural justice in society.
In light of the current situation, the judiciary should be more diligent in applying the death sentence to the greatest extent possible to protect human rights and establish the rule of law.
Apurba Mogumder is a student at the Department of Law of North South University.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.