EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLING BY DEFINITION:
Extra Judicial Killing is defined as a deliberated killing not authorized by a previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. That which is done, given, or affected outside the course of regular judicial proceedings. Not founded upon, or unconnected with, the action of a court of law, as in extrajudicial evidence or an extrajudicial oath
An international body ALRC observed that such ‘extrajudicial killings’ in the Philippines show a common pattern:
- “Surveillance and threats to the victims presumptively by officers;
- Finding their names in an “Order of Battle” by military commanders;
- Victim has an affiliation with lawful activist or leftist movements and political parties (including labor, journalism, women, peasants, environmental and other sectors);
- Assassination (often in front of the families and friends) by hooded persons often driving motorbikes or unlicensed vehicles;
- Scant investigation;
- Witness intimidation and sometimes witness murder.”
Extrajudicial killing is a serious concern in Bangladesh. Police and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) allegedly kill people in their custody. Initially, RAB used the term “crossfire” to explain the circumstances of killings in its custody. It changed the terms to “shootout” or “encounter” in 2009. RAB, created in 2004 to serve as an elite anti-terrorism/crime force, is much-talked-about security agency for extra-judicial killings.
Although the legal use of capital punishment is generally decreasing around the world, individuals or groups deemed threatening—or even simply “undesirable”—to a government may nevertheless be targeted for punishment by a regime or its representatives. Such actions typically happen quickly, with security forces acting on a covert basis, performed in such a way as to avoid a massive public outcry and/or international criticism that would reflect badly on the state.
Bangladesh should immediately end systematic human rights abuses, including stopping extra-judicial executions and torture by its security forces and allow the media, political opponents and labour rights activists to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association fully.
EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLING IN BANGLADESH:
Bangladesh is instigating to extra judicial killings. The term “extrajudicial killing” means execution without justice. This is a grave human rights violation. It’s both a violation of Bangladesh’s constitution and of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But these types of killings still occur frequently in Bangladesh
The joint police-military Rapid Action Battalion Force (RAB) carries out the extrajudicial killings, frequently termed “crossfire killings,” and after the fact, the government has justified each killing as legitimate.
The government of Bangladesh has been violating the constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights since 2004. According to Article 35(5) of the constitution of Bangladesh and Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
And according to Article 3 of the constitution of Bangladesh,
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
But, in practice, Bangladesh does not ensure the right to life and has not complied with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the constitution of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is constitutionally committed to protecting and promoting human rights. Not only that, Bangladesh has signed many international treaties to protect the human rights. In spite of it is violating continuously. Even the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Home Minister and State Minister for Home are instigating to the extra judicial killings. On the other hand, in the investigation conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, such evidence has been found, which supports the allegations of extra-judicial killings against the RAB. Present grand alliance government led by Hasina had pledged in its electoral manifesto that once in power extrajudicial killing will be brought to an end. But it has not been stopped. Rather it is being continued in different names like ‘gun-fight’, ‘encounter’, ‘Crossfire’ etc.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) – condemned by human rights group as a “death squad” – ceased the killings briefly after the existence of the British training programme was disclosed in US diplomatic cables posted on the internet by WikiLeaks last month.
After general elections in 2001 to the Jatiyo Sangshad(Bangladesh’s Parliament), the right-wing Bangladesh Nationalist Party gained a majority, largely on the basis of their law and order and national security policies within Bangladesh. In 2003, the government established the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite ‘anti-crime’ unit composed of armed personnel from several of the existing security branches. Since the RAB was set up, it has been constantly alleged that extrajudicial killings and instances of custodial torture have surged.
Between January and October 2005, an estimated 300 ‘criminal’ civilians died due to ‘encounter’ killings, at the hands of law enforcement agencies and the RAB. Human rights groups have recorded many of these killings, and have demanded that each death be investigated, but the government has refused to meet these requests. The government has defended RAB for having cut serious crime by fifty percent, and have, as of 2006, dismissed international condemnation of RAB——against whom the European Parliament have issued a strong resolution by saying that ‘encounter killings’ happen all over the world. This force has started killing people in the name of crossfire, gunfight, encounter etc. This continuance is still going on. Alike RAB the police force along with the others are conducting the extra-judicial killings. According to the report of the non-government organization the number of the people killed in the sector of extra-judicial killing is around 2,000.
The Awami League government has not kept its promise after its election victory in December 2008 to show ‘zero tolerance’ for abuses by its security forces. The current government promised in its manifesto but they have continued since its election two years ago.
The High Court gave rulings on 17 November 2009 asking the government suo moto to explain the extrajudicial deaths. In the pretext of continued killings (11 illegal deaths since 17 November) the High Court passed and order on 14 December 2009 banning all such killings till the previous case was disposed of.
LAW ENFORCEMENT MODEL:
Categorization of targeted killings as ‘extra-judicial executions’, rather than war crimes or grave breaches of international humanitarian law, implies that the relevant legal model is a law-enforcement model and that the applicable regime by which state action is to be assessed is the international human rights regime. Under such a regime the intentional use of lethal force by state authorities can be justified only in strictly limited conditions. The state is obliged to respect and ensure the rights of every person to life and to due process of law. Any intentional use of lethal force by state authorities that is not justified under the provisions regarding the right to life, will, by definition, be regarded as an ‘extra-judicial execution’.
In examining application of international human rights standards to the issue of targeted killings of international terrorists, a number of questions have to be addressed:
- Assuming that the regime of international human rights applies in such a situation, are there circumstances in which a targeted killing would not be regarded as a violation of the victim’s right to life?
- B. Does the international human rights regime apply to the act of state A carried out on the territory of state B over which the state A does not exercise jurisdiction and has no control?
- Does the international human rights regime apply in the ‘warlike’ situation of protracted violence between an international terror group and a given state?
According to the human rights organizations reports on extra judicial killings, 396 people have been killed in 2005, 355 people have been killed in 2006, 184 people have been killed in 2007, 149 people have been killed in 2008, 229 people have been killed in 2009, 133 people have been killed in 2010 and at least 15 people have been killed in this year in extra judicially by the law enforcers. Though, according to a secret source, over 8,000 people have been killed only by RAB in extra judicially (in the name of so-called crossfire, encounter, and gunfight) and by secret murders, disappeared since 2004
GOVERNMENTAL ATTITUDE REGARDING EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLING:
A wide variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated independently and without Government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Prominent human rights NGOs included: Odhikar (Rights), Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights, Ain O Shalish Kendro (ASK) , Shishu Adhikar Forum (Civil Rights Forum), Adibashi Forum (Indigenous Peoples Forum), Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims (BRCT), and Naari Pokkho (On Women’s Sides), Bangladesh Women Lawyers’ Association, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (Women’s Council), and Justice and Peace Commission. While human rights groups were often sharply critical of the Government, they also practiced self-censorship, particularly on some politically sensitive cases and subjects. Government officials were defensive about international criticism regarding human rights problems. However, the Government maintained a dialog on human rights issues with international organizations such as the U.N. Human Rights Commission and the ICRC; however, neither of these organizations visited the country during the year. Despite their election pledge and repeated public announcements, the Government did not enact legislation establishing an independent National Human Rights Commission. The previous government also failed to establish this commission despite repeated promises.
The foreign minister Dipu Moni recently told
“Extrajudicial killing was almost part of the system and could not be changed overnight.”
HOW CAN WE STOP EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLING?
The nation requires thorough reforms of its criminal justice system. Effective and unhindered complaint mechanisms must be put in place and independent investigations of any and all allegations of human rights violations must be conducted. There should be an independent, permanent and accountable prosecutorial authority that remains beyond politicisation. Bangladesh must also create a fully independent judiciary, to replace the vehicle of injustice that exists in its stead at present. Without such actions there can be no hope of an end to the country’s pervasive culture of impunity.
However, when the police themselves, or other branches of law-enforcement, are the alleged perpetrators of abuses, such avenues for complaints are fully obstructed. This is the case in particular with the gravest abuses, notably extra-judicial killings.
This will require a functioning and effective, independent judiciary at all levels, which remains highly elusive at present. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh, as the guardian and interpreter of the Constitution, must act to address this situation. The Supreme Court’s High Court Division has inherent power to deal with issue of fundamental rights, according to Section 561A of the Code of Criminal Procedure-1898, which reads:
” Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent power of the High Court Division to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. “
However, it is true that those who have been victim of extra judicial killing, most of them are inured criminals or member of outlawed political group. Notwithstanding, every killing must be treated as illegal. Government and law enforcing agencies should try to understand the issue in favor of nurturing and ensuring law of justice in the country. Otherwise, people will be frustrated about country law as a result country image will be destroyed.
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.”
The judiciary will have to bring back the confidence of the people in it by speedily disposing cases involving human rights violations, holding the perpetrators fully accountable to the crimes. Incidentally, another thing to consider is this: If one is merely acting under the orders of a ‘superior,’ will the former be exculpated or will there be a solidary liability as principals
Finally, we hope government and law enforcing agencies will consider the adverse consequences of extra judicial killings and stop the offense against humanity. It is urgent to bring all the criminals under the view of the law to ensure good governance.
1. Ain o Sailash Kendra (2010), ASK Bulletin, June 2010: http://www.askbd.org/Bulletin_June_10/ as on 6 October 2010
2. “Constitution of Bangladesh: Part II: Fundamental Principles of State Policy”; Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
3. Zelermyer, William (1977). The Legal System in Operation. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing.
4. Publication of Judicial Decisions and Availability of Law Reports in the Asia/Pacific Region” delivered to the 10th Conference of Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific Conference, Tokyo, 2003. (2004) 13(4) Journal of Judicial Administration 201
- Stanley, Ruth (2006). “Predatory States. Operation Condor and War in Asia/When States Kill. Asia, the U.S., and Technologies of Terror”. Journal of Third World Studies. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3821/is_200610/ai_n17195860.
7. BD news24.com (2010): Shafique sees no ‘crossfire’, 28 May: http://www.bdnews24.com/details.php?id=162586&cid=2 as on 6 October 2010
8. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf.
- James Heitzman and Robert L. Worden, ed (1989). “Early History, 1000 B.C.-A.D. 1202”. Bangladesh: A country study. Library of Congress. ISBN 8290584083
11. Khan, Zillur R. (1997). “Bangladesh’s experiments with parliamentary democracy”. Asian Survey 37 (6): 575–589.
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 The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organization holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at local and national levels throughout Asia.
 Rapid Action Battalion or RAB 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 members 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 operations from 14 April 2004.
 Bedau, Hugo Adam (Autumn 1983). “Bentham’s Utilitarian Critique of the Death Penalty”. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Northwestern University School of Law) 74 (3): 1033–1065.
 Fariha Karim (21 December 2010). “WikiLeaks cables: UK hopes to influence Islamic education in Bangladesh”. The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/21/wikileaks-cables-uk-bangladesh-education. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
 Jatiyo Sangshad or National Assembly is the national parliament of Bangladesh. The current parliament of Bangladesh contains 345 seats including 45 women reserved seats distributed on elected party position in the parliament, the occupants of which are called Members of Parliament or MPs. The last 9th National Parliamentary Election was held on December 29, 2008 and, under normal conditions, elections are called every five years.
 See http://newagebd.com/newspaper1/frontpage/7467.html
 I stress that the emphasis is on state behavior or responsibility, and not on individual criminal liability. Clearly, with the growing body of international criminal law and the establishment of the International Criminal Court, issues of individual liability of those who carry out the targeting on behalf of the state also needs to be addressed.
 In its report on the Israeli policy, supra note 8, Amnesty International defined an extrajudicial execution as follows: ‘[a]n extrajudicial execution is an unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of a government or with its acquiescence. Extrajudicial killings are killings which can reasonably be assumed to be the result of a policy at any level of government to eliminate specific individuals as an alternative to arresting them and bringing them to justice. These killings take place outside any judicial framework.’
 Reports in the press have increasingly used more than one of the terms “crossfire”, “encounter”, “gunfight” and “shootout” in one article to describe the same incident. It is, therefore, no longer possible for Odhikar to determine which of these descriptions best describes an incident of extra-judicial killing. Odhikar has, therefore, grouped these incidents together.
 ASK – the Law and Mediation Centre – is a national human rights organisation based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It works through six units, focusing on Advocacy, Child Rights, Gender and Social Justice, Legal Aid, Investigation, Outreach, Documentation and Research, Training, Communication and Popular Theatre.
 The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties (signatories) to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005 have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and internal armed conflicts.
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