Bangladesh: Impunity of Security Forces Gravest Concern
17 July 2008 8:32 am
FORUM ASIA’s member organization in Bangladesh, Odhikar, has monitored the human rights situation in Bangladesh.
Covering the months from January to June 2008, the report revealed that the ongoing impunity of security forces throughout the country is one of the gravest concerns.
Bangladesh: Impunity of security forces gravest concern
FORUM ASIA’s member organization in Bangladesh, Odhikar, has monitored the human rights situation in Bangladesh from January to June 2008, and issued its findings on 1 July 2008.
The report revealed that the ongoing impunity of security forces throughout the country is one of the gravest concerns.
From January to June 2008, 68 persons were killed extra-judicially by law enforcement officials during alleged “cross-fire”, “encounter”, “shootout” or “gunfight”.
During the same period also, another 15 persons died in police custody, likely following torture or degrading treatments.
At the end of May, the military-backed government launched a massive wave of arrests. Over a month, 50,215 were arrested on alleged charges of criminal acts.
Odhikar and civil society organizations in Bangladesh have severely condemned these blanket arrests and regarded this measure as a mean to persecute political opponents or civil society actors.
This measure, along with the 17 months of Emergency Power Rules, has filled up the countries’ prisons.
Odhikar is appalled to observe that the laws do not apply equally and fairly to all prisoners, inside the jail.
Several “VIP” prisoners, such as important political figures, were granted parole, whereas it was refused to the rest of the prisoners.
Freedom of expression remains limited in Bangladesh, and more especially since the state of emergency was declared in January last year.
Citizens do not have free access to information, and journalists’ work is being threatened.
During the first six months of 2008, 23 journalists were injured, while 13 were assaulted and 16 faced verbal threats. Last but not least, the occurrence of sexual violence on women and girls is unspeakable.
Odhikar recorded as many as 113 women victims of rape during the 6 months, and no less than 153 female children.
Among these, a large number died following rape, and too often were gang raped.
With an average of 44 women and girls raped each month in Bangladesh, Odhikar and FORUM-ASIA urged the government to take immediate action to prevent these crimes, protect the victims, and punish the perpetrators, which is nearly never done.
FORUM-ASIA reminded Bangladesh, that as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the country was committed to promote universal respect for human rights, but has so far failed to live up to this commitment.