Extra Judicial killing diminishes public faith on judicial system of Bangladesh.
The term extra judiciary killing refers to 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 and people would be killed without being prosecuted.
And Judiciary system refers to the branch of government that is endowed with the authority to interpret and apply the law, adjudicate legal disputes, and otherwise administer justice. It works for the betterment of the society and prosecutes criminals who have done heinous works and serves justice and it is backed up by different law enforcing agencies.
We can easily see that both of these ideas contradict each other. One breaks the social contract between the government and the general mass while the other one preserves it. In Bangladesh the killings by law enforcement agencies are common. In 1972, the paramilitary group Jatiya rakki bahini was formed and became famous for its extrajudicial executions until it was absorbed into the army in1975. Now, since the formation of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (rab) in march 2004, such killings are again on the rise and are being categorized under new vocabulary of “crossfire”. As the word RAB is more prominent in our society, I will discuss about the extrajudicial killings they do and how people have started mistrusting the law and order system of Bangladesh and how it takes away the basic right from the general people.
When ever we open the newspaper these days we see that people (criminals according to police) dying due to crossfire by the Rapid Action Battalion. The saga initially started since the formation of RAB and it still continues. Initially it got a lot of public support because the success rate of killing very powerful criminals was high. These people were very powerful in nature and had political leaders backing them up. Godfathers like Picchi Hannan and Kala Faruk was killed by cross fires. Public was happy because they thought they had a robin hood who would save them from the suffering of the weak law and order system of the country.The RAB, which has been in operation since June 2004, was set up in March 2004 by amending the Armed Police Battalions Ordinance of 1979 and enacting a new law, the Armed Police Battalions (Amendment) Act of 2003. It is assigned to investigate any offence under the direction of the government and has exclusive jurisdiction in this regard. It can investigate and work for all security purposes, especially as an elite law and order enforcement agency with a special focus on curbing organized crime and eliminating top criminals. This gave the power to RAB to do whatever they want to do.
But upto now there has been 16 civilian deaths caused by RAB. 2 were students in college, 2 were garment workers(died of injuries sustained in a tear gas fired by police), 2 were villagers, 1 UP chairman, 1 freedom fighter, 1 C&F agent, 1 farmer and 1 shopkeeper.( http://drhabibsiddiqui.blogspot.com/2010/03/more-on-so-called-crossfire-in.html)
Unfortunately the report did not confirm how and under what circumstances they were killed. There is no rule of law working in Bangladesh.
In the constitution of Bangladesh says that minimum force should be applied to arrest and every person has the right to seek a trail. In cases of crossfire and encounters we find these legal provisions totally ignored. Article 31 of the constitution of Bangladesh states: “To enjoy the protection of law, and to be treated 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. The constitution’s Article 32 ensures the protection of the right to life and personal liberty in accordance with the law. Because of the consequences of such deprivation, the drafters of the constitution made this specific provision of protection even though these rights were already covered by Article 31.( http://www.hrsolidarity.net/mainfile.php/2005vol15no03/2425/). Even a fugitive in our country is allowed to have a trail even with death penalty on their head so these killings are totally unjustified.
Now recently we have seen people started protesting against it. Most of the people fear rab and police officials now a days but normally they should be cherished for protecting the civilians. People now a day’s think that there are no proper rule of law in the country. They fear to go their safe keepers. Human rights movement agencies have raised their voice from the beginning but were not heard at all by the government officials even the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has supported the extra judiciary killing in different occasions. So people do not feel safe anymore on the other hand crime has not been rooted out so the normal civilians are at boiling point with nowhere to go to. According to Shah Abidur Rahman of North South University “these kinds of killing do not bring the terrorists down totally as new terrorists are breeding every day. He said that because of the outrage of RAB the terrorists are more dangerous then ever before. Earlier there would have attacks where very less number of people would have been killed but now terrorists are more hard to catch and they are using high tech weapons like grenades and bombs. We were not hit by bombs in 63 districts before 2004. Even the current PM had to face grenade attacks in her assembly and a lot of people died. So has crime stopped?” No it has escalated to a great extent. So the basic idea on what RAB was made falls flat as because terrorists are more powerful and organized now. Another student Sadia Rahman said, “it is unjustified morally and theoretically. Morally because the work of these law enforce agencies is to make sure people are safe and the people creating mishaps to be prosecuted so if that agency takes away a life then it is totally unjustified because that person is not fulfilling his role properly and more preferably he’s taking away a life and in our constitution it is written that the right to life should always be the top priority and we see it being tarnished over here.”
According to a sufferer who was abused by RAB because they thought something is wrong with the guys and then abused orally in public,” RAB and police are the licensed criminals. Normal criminals can be stopped but how do u stop people who have the license to kill. These agencies know nothing is going to happen to them so they do whatever they want to do. They abuse people on the streets and kill whoever they want to. This needs to be stopped.” As a personal opinion I also saw RAB officials stopping the Scholastican school bus and harassing students in front of public. It made me feel that I’m into a country like Afghanistan or Iran rather then a democratic country. This is an utter disgrace. Human rights activist, Mrs. Mahbuba Ahmed said
“crime would never go down like this. In Ireland when people were killed by the british army people started revolting, same happened in Srilanka. To stop crime we must understand the criminals. Rather than killing if these people could have been prosecuted we would definitely have got many important information and the crime could have been stopped by a greater extent”.
Principally it is wrong because it breaks the social contract between govt. and people. So what is social contract??
It is an unwritten contract between the state and the people. The contract states that individuals would pay gratitude in form of taxes to the government and the government would ensure the basic necessities and the basic rights of the people. That includes, freedom of expression, choice, right to life, right to ownership etc. Right to prosecution is also a part of this social contract. So when an individual is killed without being prosecuted the social contract is breached and thus the public are turned down by the government and this can be dangerous. On a second note if we look at the law and order system of any country we see that it is made to intregate the guilty into the society through proper rehabilitation so that society can gain more. Now if some is killed without the right to fair trail then this core pillar of the Judicial System is shattered into pieces. And when things like this happen citizen are bound to lose trust.
There is proverb saying A terrorist to one might be a hero to another. During the war of liberation the mukti bahini was called as terrorists from the Pakistani counterparts while they were cherished as heroes in Bangladesh and death of one freedom fighters would make the others more furious. We see a similar case over here. These people have brainwashed others and they follow their lead so to make an example one should be prosecuted and put to fair trail so that everyone sees and knows what that individual has done and this will create hatred among the public even more and help crime to come down drastically. But now when these people are killed they become heroes to their co workers. Their lead is followed thus more terrorists breed. On the other hand if government is not letting know totally about the incidents then they are infringing an individual’s right to information and that is not morally justified as well.
Recent study shows a pattern in the cross fires. The agency would arrest some criminals. Then they will bring out secret information from the suspect. Then they will rely on the suspect to take them to the original place not confirming anything with the local police. This puts the life of suspect always into jeopardy. One question never answered is why they never take the help of the local authority and as normally guns are found in those locations then smooth operations would definitely be more profitable as they wont get any time to flee away with their possessions. Thus in all ground such action should always be avoided as net harm outweighs net benefit.
Now the main question whether people are losing trust on the the judicial system. After the interview all the people were asked this question and all of them denied to the fact that rule of law is present in bd. Every reply consisted hatred and fear towards these individuals. When they were asked do you feel safe to the law and order authority and all of them said it’s a very hectic job and the people over there are very rude. This shows how because of just a few actions the people have started to hate the institution as a whole and as a citizen of this country I feel pity about it.
Extra Judicial killing has never got public support. It could never make sure that the crime is uprooted. It can never justify the rights taken away from the individuals. It can never show us a clear path of solving this huge mystery. It only brings public suffering. It makes people scared of the law and order system and puts individuals into a state of uncertainty. My article shows how much the general people hate the Security agencies who should have their friends. Extra judiciary killing has also killed civilians. In operation clean heart a lot of unconvicted civilians died of sudden heart attack. These kinds of actions are totally unjustified on all grounds. Government should be proactive in routing out this situation and make law and order safe, sound and more helpful for general people and we need to do it because democracy talks about a Government for, by and of the people and this is the way to go.
The sources I used to do this report.
4) Bangladesh constitution,
6) Tritiomatra- Channel I
7) Democracywatch Bangladesh.
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