'RAB, Police Violate Human Rights'
Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The ruling Awami League government has broken its election pledge towards showing "zero tolerance" for abuses by its security forces, a human rights organisation says.

Two years on, new extrajudicial killings have been reported, and those responsible have not been brought to justice, according to the World Report 2011 by Human Rights Watch.

The New York-based organisation's 21st annual review of human rights practices summarises major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide.

Bangladesh should immediately end systematic human rights abuses, including stopping extrajudicial executions and torture by its security forces, the 649-page report published on Monday says in the chapter on Bangladesh.

Bangladesh should allow the media, political opponents, and labour rights activists to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association fully, it reads.

"The government should not just keep turning a blind eye to all these killings because they are not fooling anyone with their excuses," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of HRW.

"Credibility will only come if the government follows the National Human Rights Commission's recommendation to name an impartial panel of inquiry for each killing and to hold those found responsible to account," he suggested.

"Bangladesh has a long way to go to live up to its commitments, in both national policies and meeting international obligations," Robertson said. "It is only when its people can live free of fear of torture, repression, curbs on free speech, or politically motivated actions that it can truly lay its claim to being a democratic country."

The joint police-Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) carries out the extrajudicial killings, frequently termed 'crossfire killings', and after each occurrence, the government has justified the killings as legitimate, the report states.

HRW noted that independent groups often find signs of torture and abuse on the bodies of 'crossfire' victims, and surviving victims testify that torture is commonly inflicted by the RAB on those in its custody. "This is consistent with information in recently leaked US government diplomatic cables that stated there was credible evidence that the RAB tortures detainees."

The organisation also found that it is not only the Bangladeshi security forces who commit abuses. Acute poverty and unemployment prompts millions of Bangladeshis to cross the border into India in search of jobs or to engage in trade. Many of them are killed by India's Border Security Force (BSF), which engages in indiscriminate and excessive use of deadly force.

It suggested that the Bangladesh government should be more vocal and determined in pressing the Indian government to restrain its border forces and to end the killings that too often occur along the common border.

Source: bdnews24.com

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