Admiralty Chambers In Bangladesh

Amicable bilateral treaties should be framed for preventing border killings


In the last decade, over 900 Bangladeshis were killed by the BSF. Several of them were very innocent and had no involvement in border crimes. Bangladeshi citizens were injured or killed due to indiscriminate firing from across the border according to several cases. This inhuman activity from border security forces of India is an example of border killings.

These border conflicts can be minimized by the help of border treaties. Under international law, an agreement entered into by actors like sovereign states and international organizations is a treaty. There are many synonyms for treaties, such as, international agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, exchange of letters.

A bilateral treaty is a treaty strictly between two state parties. These two parties can be two states, or two international organizations or one state and one international organization. Because of the similarity to a contract, bilateral treaty is also called a contractual treaty.

Main Body

When an agreement fulfils certain conditions, it becomes enforceable by law. Essential elements of contract is the name given to these conditions that are explained below.

1.  Offer and Acceptance:

* There must be a lawful offer by one party and the offer should be legally accepted.

2. Intention to create Legal Relationship:

* A motive to establish a legal relationship between countries should exist.

3. Lawful Consideration:

* A treaty is legally valid when both the parties plan to give each other something.

4. Capacity of Parties:

* Both the countries must be capable of entering into the treaty and maintaining it.

5. Legality of the object:

  • The object for which the agreement has been-entered into must not be illegal, or immoral or opposed to public policy. Both the countries should be able to follow the rules and obligations that were written on the treaty. For instance: Treaty of Ganges that was signed in 1996 between Bangladesh & India. In that treaty it was clearly mentioned that both the nations will not take any measure that is harmful for any of them. Basing on this, Bangladesh can easily claim to stop the illegal construction of the Tipaimukh Dam.

Since Bangladesh & India share the same border, the border is constantly being monitored by the border security forces of India & Bangladesh for prevention of trans border crimes, unauthorized entry and exit of Bangladeshis to India, smuggling & other illegal activities.

The responsible government of any country should use the state machinery to improve the living condition of its citizens regardless of their racial and religious background, to give protection, to maintain internal stability, and to promote social harmony through alleviating poverty, deprivation, exploitation, and racism .Being one of the most important state organs, the BDR is entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the unarmed, innocent people living in the border areas from external state or non-state aggression. Although, the border forces of an individual nation try their best to protect the people, they often get killed by border forces of neighboring nations. These killings can be stopped if both the neighboring countries come into an amicable agreement by signing a treaty.

In the Bangladeshi area near the border, the inhabitants of the area are mainly pheasants & farmers, who are hardly benefited by poverty alleviation schemes, decide to migrate to India as they provide better employment for cheap labor. Illegal migration of Bangladeshis to India is very common. Some even leave families in Bangladesh and go to meet relatives in India by starting off such a perilous journey.

Smuggling is the most common crime along the border. Drugs and cattle are easily smuggled across the border. In order to stop drug smuggling, trafficking & illegal immigration of citizens, the border security guards have been employed. Numerous cases of indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture & killings by the security force, without adequate investigation or punishment were found by Human Rights Watch.

Over 100 interviews with victims, witnesses, human rights defenders, journalists, law- enforcement officials, and Border Security Force and Bangladesh Rifles’ (BDR) members were the basis of such a report. Several people, in order to visit relatives, buy supplies, & look for jobs as well as for both petty & serious crime routinely move back & forth. Many innocent civilians who commit no crimes are often shot dead by these border guards. The victims were cattle rustlers -farmers or laborers hoping to support their meager livelihood as couriers in the lucrative but illegal cattle trade that is rampant at the West Bengal border.

In several cases the BSF in India supports their killings by claiming that they shot because of self defense, or because the victims were drug dealers. However, the alleged criminals did not have any weapon apart from knives, sticks or sickles and most of them were shot in the back may be during their run to escape arrest.

But doubts of a crime or escape from being arrested are not enough to justify the use of arms on any civilian. Before the use of force & firearms, the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials calls upon officials to apply, as far as possible, nonviolent means. No evidence in any death was found by Human Rights watch that the person was engaged in any activity that would justify such an extreme response.

The BSF is often termed as an unsympathetic force which not only is violent to the criminals but also is violent to innocent civilians and treats the entire population with suspicion. However, the BSF forces often even mistreat innocent civilians for no reason. The main reason for this type of behavior from such soldiers is because they are not answerable to anyone. Police refuses to register complaints as these soldiers cannot be arrested if permission from federal home ministry is granted.

If a bilateral treaty is signed between India & Bangladesh, these border killings would have been reduced a great deal. These killings can be easily stopped by a treaty if both the nations come on amicable terms and promise to avoid the killing of innocent civilians. The treaty should include clauses such as the activities of BSF should be monitored by the Human Rights organizations. The soldiers should be arrested by police if found guilty and they should ensure that they will never shoot any innocent civilian.

However, apart from minimizing border killings there are many purposes for the signing of bilateral treaties between nations such as the one signed between Hungary & Romania which ensured the protection that Bucharest had granted to Hungarian citizens.

Apart from solving border issues and conflicts there are other purposes of bilateral treaties. One such example is the solving of the Tipaimukh Dam issue. Most of the Bangladeshis are very scared about the construction of the Tipaimukh Dam. There are a lot of people who are against the construction of the dam in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi experts have said the massive dam will disrupt the seasonal rhythm of the river and have an adverse effect on downstream agriculture and fisheries. The government of Bangladesh has decided to send an expert team to the Dam area to examine the features and likely impact of the dam on the flow of water into the Surma and the Kushiara. Another is the environmental factor. The Tipaimukh area lies in an ecologically sensitive and topographically fragile region. It lies on an earthquake zone.

When a question was raised on the permission by international law to build Tipaimukh Dam, Indian High Commissioner said that there is no law that can prevent the building of tipaimukh dam. This is completely against the 1996 Ganges water bilateral treaty signed between India & Bangladesh.

According to article 38 of statute of international court of justice, bilateral or multi lateral treaties are primary expressions of international law.  According to the treaty the construction of any structure on the water body requires proper permission of both the nations. Both countries will definitely have to follow the rules and regulations specified in the treaty.

Therefore construction of Tipaimukh dam on upstream of Barak, which after entering Bangladesh flows into Kushiara & Shurma is illegal unless the consent of Bangladesh is not received. Therefore the horrendous consequence of Bangladesh after construction of the Tipaimukh Dam is definitely a violation of the “no harm” clause in the treaty of Ganges.
The Tipaimukh dam was entirely developed and started without the approval of Bangladesh. By doing this, India has violated the “no harm” principle that was mentioned in the treaty of Ganges. This treaty cannot be ignored, and so on the basis of this treaty according to international law, Bangladesh is capable of stopping the construction of Tipaimukh Dam. Based on the bilateral treaties signed earlier, Bangladesh can hopefully reach an amicable decision for the benefit of both the nations.

Bilateral treaties play a major role in improving the relationship between two countries.

An example of a bilateral treaty is the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace & Friendship between Nepal & India established a close strategic bonding between these two neighbors of South Asia. The treaty was signed on July 31, 1950 by the then-Prime Minister of Nepal Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana and Indian ambassador to Nepal, Chadreshwar Narayan Singh. The free movement of people and goods between Nepal & India and a close relationship and collaboration on matters of defence and foreign issues are allowed by the treaty. The immigration act of Nepal clearly stipulates that every foreigner needs a VISA to enter and stay inside Nepal. Although the immigration act of Nepal clearly states that every foreigner needs a visa to enter & stay inside Nepal, at least there were no border killings which shows that the treaty was very effective in stopping border killings.

Another example for a successful bilateral treaty was the one between Iraq & Iran.

The Iraqi ground forces crossed the border into Iran on September 22, 1980, starting the official commencement of Iran-Iraq war. The war marked the beginning of a long history of tense equations between Iraq & Iran with the conflicts evident for hundreds of years.

Past conflicts had never before proceeded into the level of such cruel fighting that would characterize the next eight years of war. One of the chief reasons for such a long standing & fruitful fight minimization was the decision of the two countries to reach a common decision in the form of treaties. Although many of the treaties had a short life, the treaty relations as a whole between both the countries provide a wonderful opportunity to test the strength and weakness of bilateral treaties along with the decisions involved with a dedication to treaty formulation. These bilateral treaties ensure that border forces of two respective nations will never shoot innocent people between nations. This was a successful example of a bilateral treaty which stopped border killings.


Treaties or bilateral treaties that are signed between two nations are immensely effective in solving problems between two nations. These bilateral treaties help to strengthen amicable relationships between two nations so that both countries signing the treaty follow the clauses. For these bilateral treaties, border killings by the border security forces of India, can be easily stopped. If both nations take the decision to come in agreement, the killings of innocent civilians in borders who get mistakenly suspected as smugglers can be easily stopped. Therefore, in order to maintain an amicable relationship between nations and to stop the killings of innocent people on the border, countries should sign bilateral treaties for the welfare of their citizens & for the welfare of innocent citizens of other countries. So, bilateral treaties are immensely essential for establishing

good relationships between nations & for preventing border killings.


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