Custodial Death is a gross violation of Human Rights

Custodial Death is a gross violation of Human Rights


Every day we met with some bad news much death some death are natural death, some are accidental death, and some death belong to violation of human right like custodial death. Whenever we go through daily newspaper or news on broadcast media or internet, one of the most common topics we can find is death in custody. This is

something that we get to hear about most often from

people surrounding us, it’s happened from long time not

only in Bangladesh but also in whole world. In every society

there are certain rules based on which the society moves

ahead. The people who try to violate or indeed violate the

rules are blotched as criminal and they are given various

types of punishment in accordance to the extent of their

illicit works. Every criminal is sent to the prison or in any

other place for punishment and proper authority is engaged

in the duty to see whether the criminals are trying to escape

from the prison. The authority must also ensure that the prisoners can practice all the human rights that they are supposed to get. In most of the cases the police get the duty to look after the prisoners. The police play a vital role in keeping the society safe and secured (1). So they always should be active in arresting the criminals and in punishing them. But at the same time they should also have to ensure that no criminal will be punished in the prison by violating the law. It is often seen that the prisoners become the victim of the illegal actions of the police in the prison which sometimes cause for death for them. To complete the assignment two key points will be discussed here. These are: custodial death and human rights.

What is custodial death?

When the criminals are kept in the prison, they become the prey of custodial violence. Custodial violence means torturing of police on the prisoners. Torture is sometimes necessary and is authorized by the government to control the jailbird people who become very offensive. Some prisoners are kept in the prison to provide valuable information to the police about their gang. This is called remand (2).

When any criminal is taken in remand, the police are told to find out the necessary information from the criminals by hook or by crook whish at the same time does not mean that the police is allowed to take the life of the criminals to get information. But in many countries, especially in the developed countries, the criminals are killed in the prison by the police which are called custodial death. It might happen that the criminal is not concurring to provide the desired information to the police. In that case the police might increase the level of torture but can never kill the criminal. There is no doubt that the police play a vital part in safe keeping the life of the general people and to do that they must have to take necessary action against any kind of unlawful activity. But at the same time they have to be responsible to the law as well. They must show respect to the human rights of all the people. The police should always remember that like all other people they are also under the law and not above it. They must be liable for any kind of breach of law. Any kind of brutal action in the prison by the police might cause the death of the prisoner and the police must be liable for that.  Many people might say that the criminals violate the laws and make the life of the general people like hell. So there is no need to show lawful behavior toward them in the custody. But this is not solution of the problem. The criminals should go through the legal procedure of the law and find what they deserve. Custodial deaths are very much related to the random arrest and custodial violence of the criminals. The acts are always discouraged by Law.


1. It is the duty of all the people in a society to keep it safe. But as a representative of the government, the police have the responsibility more than any other people to look after the society and to stop crime. They have the authority of the police to take care of the people of the society.

2. In many cases the criminals are not likely to co operate the police in diminishing the crime from the society. Then the court orders the police to take the prisoner in the jail and torture him/her to find out the information necessary to find out other criminals.

What is human right?

Before discussing about the violation of Human Rights, let’s know the definition of “Human Rights”. “Human Rights” are referred to fundamental rights which humans have by the fact of being human and which are neither created nor can be abrogated by any government. Supported by several international conventions and treaties (such as the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948), these include Right to get food, Right to get clothes, Right to get shelter, Right to get education,   Right to get treatment, Right to get proper judgment. Economic and political rights, such as right to life, liberty, cultural, and equality before law and right of association, belief, free speech, information, religion, movement and nationality. Human Rights refer to inherent, universal rights of human beings regardless of jurisdiction or other factors, such as ethnicity, The idea of human rights descended from the philosophical idea of natural rights; some recognize no difference between the two and regard both as labels for the same thing while others choose to keep the terms separate to eliminate association with some features traditionally associated with natural rights.

Custodial Death According To Bangladesh

On July 6th 2010, three police officers of Darus Salam Police Station have been suspended following the death of an alleged drug peddler in police custody. The suspension order was for Sub Inspector Hekmatullah, Assistant Sub Inspector Moshiur Rahman and another ASI Abu Sayem. The Police on July 1 arrested Mojibur Rahman, 45, for his alleged involvement with drug peddling. His body was recovered from the Turag River adjacent to the police station on the following day.

On July 4th 2010, two Sub Inspectors of Gulshan Police station were closed to the Rajarbagh Police Lines following the death of Mizanur Rahman, who died in police custody. His relatives alleged that the police killed Mizanur for not giving bribes. The police claimed that he had died while mugging. An auto rickshaw driver was also killed in police custody on June 28th, 2010.

On February 8th 2010, three officials of Keraniganj Police Station, including the officer in charge have been sued for the death in custody of a murder suspect last week. Addu miah, father of victim Lutfur Rahman Miah, Alias Manik, filled the case with Dhaka Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court on Monday, alleging that his son was tortured to death while in police custody. But Keraniganj Police claimed that he committed suicide. Keraniganj Police Chief Md. Asaduzzaman, Sub Inspectors Zahidur Rahman and Harunur Rashid have been accused in this case. On February 1, Keraniganj Police said 38 years old Manik, detained in connection with the murder of a woman, had hung himself in the toilet of Police Station.

Rapid Action Battalion is an elite anti crime and anti terrorism unit of Bangladesh Police constituted amending the Armed Police Battalion Ordinance, 1979. Under the command of Inspector General of Police (IGP) it consists of Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guards Bangladesh and Bangladesh Ansar. It was formed on 26 March 2004 and started its operation from 14 April 2004. Since its establishment, the RAB has seized huge numbers of illegal arms and ammunition (3), it has also had many notable arrests (4). Still the RAB had to face strong and extreme criticism from different human rights organizations. Amnesty International criticized RAB’s lack of accountability as it has been responsible for numerous deaths which have been attributed to “Crossfire”.


3.RAB has seized approximately a total of 3,149 illegal arms and 36,000 rounds of ammunition.

4.RAB successfully arrested notorious Bangla bhai and Shaiokh Abdur Rahman. Not only these two but RAB also arrested many more notorious terrorists and drug dealers.

In March 2010, the battalion leader stated that they have killed 622 people due to “Crossfire” while some human rights organizations claim that this number is over than one thousand. There have also been many reports of torture (5). According to media reports, local and international human rights organizations and the govt. the RAB killed 41 persons during the year of 2009 and 68 persons in the year of 2008.

The deaths, some under unusual circumstances,

occurred during raids, arrests and other law

enforcement operations or in some cases while

the accused were in custody. The govt. often

described these deaths as “Crossfire”, “Gunfight”

or “Encounter Killings”. These terms are used to

characterize exchanges of gunfire between the

RAB or Police and criminal gangs.

The following is the statistic of custodial death in Bangladesh in recent years:

Number of death Year
At least 64 people 2010
At least 54 people by both police and RAB 2009
More than 100 people 2008
At least 130 people 2007


Violation of Human Rights

Human Rights legislation commonly contains several rights. One of those rights is security rights (6). Security rights are those that protect people against crimes such as murder, massacre, torture and rape. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, fundamental human rights are violated when some certain circumstances arise like, life, liberty or security of person is threatened (7). Or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment is used on a person such as, torture or execution (8).

Article 31 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh states that, to enjoy the protection of the law, and to be treated in accordance with law and only in accordance with law, is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Bangladesh, and in particular no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law.

Article 32 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh provides that, no person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.

Article 35 (4) of the Constitution of our country says that, no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.

Article 35 (5) says, no person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment.


5. Staff correspondent, Rajshahi, “Torture marks found on victim’s body”, The Daily Star 21 May. 2007

6. Human Rights legislation commonly contains seven rights. These are (a) security rights (b) liberty rights (c) political rights (d) due process rights (e) equality rights (f) welfare rights (g) group rights. Security right is relevant to our discussion.7. Article 3 of UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

8 Articles 5 of UDHR(Universal Declaration of Human Rights )

It is clear that our Constitution provides our lives with proper protection. In the above mentioned articles we see that, in no way no one should be beaten or punished or tortured till death. But from our previous scenarios we see that, Police or RAB tortured accused persons in their custody till death, which was clearly a violation of human rights and our Constitution. It is widely known that in “Remand”, Police torture accused persons so extremely that sometimes Police endanger their lives. But article 35 (5) of our constitution strictly prohibited this practice.

Our Government Have To Do

Custodial death is never expected in any enlightened society. To stop this unlawful activity some steps can be taken. These are as follows:

1.      The government should implement current laws regarding custodial death. There should be laws regarding custodial death. The only thing that needs to do is the government should apply those laws.

2.      Sometimes the existing laws might not be sufficient to stop custodial death. In that case the Government of country should formulate new rule and regulation to stop this unauthorized action.

3.      The police are the people who are engaged in protecting the law of any country. So if they violate the rule, then the general people might be encouraged to breach rules. For that reason the government should be very strict in giving punishment to the convicted police who will be responsible for the custodial death of criminals.

4.      A proper amount of medical facilities should be provided in jails with the intention that in case of crisis, proper and well-timed medical help could be provided to the persons in the jail.

The police can be trained to use new scientific and parallel and psychological prejudiced technique instead of using torture.


Everyone wants a crime free world to live in. There might have some people who will try to violate the law and engage in crime. For the sake of the peace of the society those people obviously need to be punished by the proper authority. But at the same time it has to be noticed that the human right should not be violated.  In our country Police or RAB violated human rights from time to time. Though Human Rights Organizations raised their voice in most cases, they failed because of the reluctant behavior of our Government. Law and order must be maintained but that should not be at the cost of the rule of law and human rights. In the wake of deaths in custody and by crossfire a bench of High Court Division on June 1, 2010 had warned the govt. about these extra-legal deaths. But no improvement seems to have taken place so far.   No criminal should die in the custody of the people who are liable to protect the law. If the criminals die in the police custody then there will be a hap hazard situation in the society. Then people might take the law in their own hands. So everyone should be respectful to the law and to the human rights. To make a better world for the next generation, any kind of violation of law should be prohibited and stopping the custodial death is a small part of that step.