L/C Experts In Bangladesh

Does Extra Judicial Killings diminish public faith on judicial system of Bangladesh? Do you agree with this statement? – Explain & Illustrate”


The judicial system, modelled after the British system, is similar to that of neighbouring countries. Besides the 1972 constitution, the fundamental law of the land, there are codes of civil and criminal laws. The civil law incorporates certain Islamic and Hindu religious principles relating to marriage, inheritance, and other social matters. The constitution provides for an impartial and independent judiciary. After the 1982 coup, the constitution was suspended, martial law courts were established throughout the country, and Lieut. Gen Ershad assumed the power to appoint judges. The constitution was reinstated in November 1986[1]. emergency period without any visible change in the area of human rights and rule of law despite the fact that prior to the general election of December 29, 2008 the “grand alliance”, which came to the power of the Government for a five year tenure, led by the Bangladesh Awami League, publicly pledged to bring change by establishing rule of law and human rights. Instead, the nation has been experiencing the “rule of ruling political alliance” along with frequent lawless actions by the members of the law-enforcement agencies followed by blatant impunity as usual throughout the whole of 2010.

Judicial system of Bangladesh

The judicial system consists of a Low Court and a Supreme Court, both of which hear civil and criminal cases. The Low Court consists of administrative courts (magistrate courts) and session judges. The Supreme Court also has two divisions, a High Court which hears original cases and reviews decisions of the Low Court, and an Appellate Court which hears appeals from the High Court. The upper level courts have exercised independent judgment, recently ruling against the government on a number of occasions in criminal, civil and even political trials. The trials are public. There is a right to counsel and right to appeal. There is also a system of bail. An overwhelming backlog of cases remains the major problem of the court system.

The government, with the help of the World Bank, has undertaken an ambitious project to reform the judicial system. Changes include the creation of “Legal Aid Committees” to provide assistance to the poor, as well as the establishing of Metropolitan Courts of Sessions in Dhaka and Chittagong. In March 2001, the World Bank announced the approval of a US $30.6 million credit to assist Bangladesh in making its judicial system more efficient and accountable. A permanent Law Commission has been created to reform and update existing laws, and the government is committed to establishing a Human Rights Commission as well

as an office of the ombudsman.

Death penalty continues despite a flawed criminal justice system of Bangladesh[2]

  • 1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre welcomes the discussion by the Human Rights Council during its 15th session concerning the report of the Secretary General on the question of the death penalty. In light of this discussion, the ALRC is hereby submitting information pertaining to the death penalty in Bangladesh. Bangladesh acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on September 6, 2000, but has not yet ratified the Optional Protocols to the ICCPR and also does not comply with the international law aiming to the abolition of death penalty. The country has not only executed its citizens for decades, but officials, including Ministers, Parliamentarians and Judges also advocate publicly in favour of this practice, which denies people’s right to life, often as the result of trials that do not meet the internationally recognized standards of fair trial.

  • The country’s Penal Code-1860 has several provisions that allow for capital punishment: Section 121: waging war against Bangladesh; Section 132: abetment of mutiny, if mutiny is committed; Section 194: giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence; Section 302: murder; Section 305: abetment of suicide of child or insane person; Section 307: attempted murder by life-convicts; and Section 396: robbery with murder.

  • There are several other laws in Bangladesh that also provide for the death penalty. The draconian Special Powers Act-1974, provides the death penalty for the offences of sabotage under Section 15, counterfeiting currency notes and Government stamps under Section 25A, smuggling under 25B, and adulteration of, or sale of adulterated food, drink, drugs or cosmetics under Section 25C. It is evident from the above that the death penalty is awarded for crimes that do not meet Bangladesh’s obligations under the ICCPR’s Article 6(2) to ensure that death sentences “may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.”

The legislative authorities of Bangladesh argue that the death penalty is necessary for maintaining control over serious crimes in the country and to transmit a message to potential offenders that committing murder will ultimately incur the death penalty. Pro-death penalty advocates in the country claim that the death penalty helps the nation to establish peace and justice in its society as part of upholding the rule of law. This alleged deterrent is shown to not be working effectively, as incidents of serious crimes rise each year. For example, according to the statistic contained in the website of the Bangladesh Police[3], there were 3592 murders during 2005 and 4219 murders in 2009.

Extra judicial killings

Extrajudicial killing is also known as ‘Crossfire’ or ‘encounter’. It is explained as arm fight between police and criminals. But there is no legal definition of this type of killing[4]. They are the illegal killing of leading political, trade union, dissident, religious, and social figures by either the state government, state authorities like the armed forces and police (as in Liberia under Charles G. Taylor), or criminal outfits such as the Italian Mafia.

Extrajudicial punishment is punishment by the state or some other official authority without the permission of a court or legal authority. The existence of extrajudicial punishment is considered proof that some governments will break their own legal code if deemed necessary.

In Bangladesh perspective: Obligation of extra-judicial killings[5]

Despite being a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) since 6 September 2000 and a member of the Human Rights Council, Bangladesh continues to be the scene of a large number of extra-judicial killings accompanied by total impunity. According to Article 2 and 6 of the ICCPR, the Bangladeshi authorities have the obligation to ensure the right to life of the country’s people and must provide prompt and effective remedies in cases where any violations takes place. Bangladesh also has the obligation to introduce legislation that is in conformity with the ICCPR, but continues to fail in this regard.

Article 32 of the Constitution of Bangladesh protects the people’s right to life and liberty, as fundamental rights. The provision reads:

“No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty saves in accordance with law.” [6]

Law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh:

Such fierce campaign by Bangladesh’s law enforcers comes in the wake of the government establishing Special Forces to contain a growing crime rate. Whilst justifying the survival and heavy handedness of these forces, the government has also come under criticism by human rights bodies who describe the forces as temporary solutions in a situation that requires a long term approach.

When crimes increase out of control, on October 17 2002, the government launched army-led Operation Clean Heart. Despite only limited signs of success, the government nevertheless boasted about the operation and the improvement in law and order in the country as a result of it.

To sustain the apparent success, the government launched Rapid Action Team (Rat), comprising of policemen with Para-commando training from the army, on 25 January 2003. When Rat failed to bring tangible results, army personnel were included in the team and the force was renamed Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) on 14 April 2004.

The government also formed Cobra in June 2004, which worked in the capital, and Cheetah, which came into force in September 2004.

Extra-judicial killings by law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh[7]:

Soon after the formation of Rab, the so-called crossfire killings started to take place. The police also soon picked up on this method and very quickly surpassed the Rab in dealing with criminals in this manner.

In the past year, Bangladesh’s law enforcement agencies have killed 378 people. Of these, 245 of the victims died as a result of police actions, 116 in Rapid Action Battalion, 12 were killed by Cobra and Cheetah (special crime-busting units of police) and five by joint forces.

Law enforcers have targeted some of their victims in work places and at their homes, and have then later gunned them down in public, describing the deaths as a result of crossfire.

“Does Extra Judicial Killing diminish public faith on judicial system of Bangladesh

I am completely agreed with this statement.

Extra-judicial killings under the pretext of crossfire shootings must not be tolerated. Rab is one of the main reason for the crossfire or encounters of Bangladesh. Law does not permit to such types of killing and an authority or Government can not use such types of power arbitrarily. Sometimes certain laws allow them to use their power arbitrarily over citizen. But that power is used unwisely in extra judicial killing .Therefore, it become contradict with the higher laws and the constitution and the promote injustice in the civil society. Another significant aspect is that it has been clarified in Bangladesh constitution-is Government can not make any law that goes against the fundamentals of the constitution. I.e. that no law is made that violate the human rights of the society.

Everyone is equal in front of law and everyone is innocent unless they proved to be criminal.


1. Razia, Sultana; “Extrajudicial Killings in the Name of Crossfire”, Human Rights Solidarity, Vol. 15, No. 4

2. Enclopedia of nations, Bangldesh 2011

3. The Constitution of Bangladesh.

4. Human rights watch

5. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, September 6, 2000.

6. The website of the Bangladesh police, 2009

7. Asian Human Right Commission, July 19, 2005.

8. Lawless law-enforcement & the parody of judiciary in Bangladesh, article 2, vol. 5, no. 4, August 2006

9. Wikipedia (n.d). About Extrajudicial killing, Retrieved February 19, 2011, from            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrajudicial_killing

10. Halim, M.A. 1998. Constitution, Constitutional Law and Politics: Bangladesh

a. Perspective. Dhaka: Rico printers

[1] Enclopedia of natins, Bangldesh 2011

[2] Human Rights Council 15th sessions, august 23, 2010

[3] The website of the Bangladesh police,2009

[4] Razia Sultana,” Extra judicial killing in the name of Crossfire”,Human Rights Solidarity, Vol.15, No.4, 4th July,2005.

[5]International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, September 6, 2000.

[6] Article 32, constitution of Bangladesh   .

[7] Asian Human Right Commission, July 19,2005.


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