Legal Advisors In Bangladesh

Custodial Death is a gross violation of Human Rights- Explain & Illustrate.

1. Introduction:

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 cultural, economic and political rights, such as right to life, liberty, education and equality before law and right of association, belief, free speech, information, religion, movement and nationality[1]. Human Rights refer to inherent, universal rights of human beings regardless of jurisdiction or other factors, such as ethnicity, nationality or sex[2]. 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[3].

The Home Affairs Ministry controls the Police and Paramilitary Forces, which have primary responsibility for internal security. The Military, primarily the Army is responsible for external security but also occasionally has been given domestic security responsibilities. Security forces were rarely disciplined even for the most egregious actions. Police were often reluctant to pursue investigation against persons affiliated with the ruling party and the govt. frequently used police for political purposes. There is widespread police corruption and lack of discipline. Members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses[4]. Security forces committed a number of extrajudicial killings and custodial deaths.

2 Custodial Deaths in Bangladesh:

Scenario 1: 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.

Scenario 2: 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.

Scenario 3: An auto rickshaw driver was killed in police custody on June 28th, 2010.

Scenario 4: 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.[5]

Bangladeshi RAB: Licensed to kill!

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[6], it has also had many notable arrests[7]. 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”. 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[8]. There have also been many reports of torture[9].

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.

3 Custodial Deaths: Violation of Human Rights

Human Rights legislation commonly contains several rights. One of those rights is security rights[10].

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 are threatened[11] or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment is used on a person such as, torture or execution[12].

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.

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.

4 Conclusion:

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. Such deaths manifestly violate human rights, the Constitution and the law. The Constitution ensures the right to life and the right to protection of law for every citizen. The principle of law is that an accused is innocent unless he has been held guilty by a competent court of law. No one believes that custodial death or extra judicial killing is an administration policy. These reprehensible actions are the handiwork of rouge elements among the forces who, mainly because of lack of vigilance and proper alertness on the part of the higher authorities and due to an absence of appropriate training, perpetrate these acts. It is hoped that especially because of the court’s interest in the matter the govt. will assume a firm stance on the issue and follow up by embarking on determined administrative and legal actions against the people who are responsible for such sinister incidents.


1. Khan, Arif. International Law And Human Rights Dhaka, 2007

2. The Constitution of The People’s Republic of Bangladesh

3. Jones, Peter. Rights. Palgrave Macmillan, 1994

4. “Torture marks found on victim’s body”. The Daily Star 21 May 2007

5. <> retrieved on 21

February 2011

6. <> retrieved on 21 February 2011

7. < > retrieved on 22 February 2011

[1] See details in

[2] Legally, human rights are defined in international law and conventions and further, in the domestic laws of many states.

[3] Peter Jones, Rights, Palgrave Macmillan, 1994, p. 73

[4] See details in .

[5] See details in

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

[7] 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.

[8] See in

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

[10] 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.

[11] Article 3 of UDHR

[12] Article 5 of UDHR


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