A violation of economic, social and cultural rightsoccurs when a State fails in its obligations to ensure that they are enjoyed without discrimination or in its obligation to respect, protect and fulfil them. Often aviolation of one of the rights is linked to a violationof other rights.

Rights are primarily divided into two categories- natural rights and legal rights. Natural rights are those rights which have their basis on the rule of natural justice and the violation of which results is rights are those rights moral or natural wrong.

On the otherhand legal which are recognized by the law of land and guaranted by the constitution and violation of which results is legal wrong.

Broadly speaking human rights may be regarded as those fundamental and inalienable rights which are essentials for life as human being. Human rights are the rights which are possessed by every human being, irrespective of his or her nationality, race, religion, sex etc, simply because he or she is a human being. Human rights are thus those rights which are inherent in our nature and without which we can not live as human  being. Human rights and fundamental freedoms allow us to fully develop and use talents and our conscience and to satisfy our physical, spiritual and other needs. They are based on mankind’s increasing demand for a life in which the inherent dignity and worth of of each human being will receive respect and protection. Human rights are sometimes called fundamental rights or basic rights or natural rights.

The Violation of Fundamental Rights is not a new on this world and has been being practiced from the early history of the Human civilization. In the developing and under developed countries like Bangladesh, people are still less aware about their fundamental rights, though they are the worst suffers of the Violation of these rights.

The remove the violation of fundamental rights from the society we should aware to the general people. Moreover the most important step to make is taken effectively implement the law and change our conscience.

Custodial torture often figures in the news these days. It is a serious violation of human dignity which can destroy the personality of any individual. Torture ruins the victim both physically and mentally. They remain in a state of perpetual fear and horror whenever they remember their custodial agony. Haunted by the torture they are probably never able to lead a normal life again.

Custodial violence, perhaps one of the worst crimes in a civilized society. Custodial violence, including torture and death in the lock-ups, strikes a heavy blow at the rule of law which demands that the powers of the executive should not only be derived from law but also that they should be limited by law. It is further aggravated by the fact that persons who are supposed to be protectors of citizens, themselves commit violations of human rights.

These violations are committed under the shields of “uniform” and “authority” between the four walls of a police station, lock-up and prison, where the victims are totally helpless.

The law of arrests is one of balancing individual rights, liberties and privileges on the one hand and individual duties, obligations and responsibilities on the other. It weighs and balances the rights, liberties and privileges of a single individual and those of individuals collectively and decides what is wanted and where to put emphasis-the criminal or society, the law violator or the law abider. Transparency of action and accountability are two possible safeguards to prevent any abuse of the power to arrest a citizen.

Definition of Custodial torture and Death


Torture has been broadly defined as act of a public official, or other person acting with the consent, instigation or acquiescence of a public official by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental is intentionally inflicted on a person for the purposes of obtaining information or confession or punishing him for an act he has committed or suspected of having committed.

Section 46 of the Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860) stated the definition of Death:

The word ‘death” denotes the death of a human being, unless the contrary appears from the context.

Deaths in police custody are divided into two main categories:

Category 1 (Police custody)

  1. Deaths in institutional settings, for example, police stations or lockups, police vehicles, during transfer to or from such an institution, or in hospitals, following transfer from an institution.
  2. Other deaths in police operations where officers were in close contact with the deceased. This would include most raids and shootings by police but would not include most sieges where a perimeter was established around a premise but officers did not have such close contact with the person to be able to significantly influence or control the person’s behavior.

Category 2 (Police-related custody)

Other deaths during custody-related police operations, including situations where officers did not have such close contact with the person to be able to significantly influence or control the person’s behavior. It would include most sieges, as described above and most cases where officers were attempting to detain a person, for example, during a pursuit.

Custodial Torture and Death: Violation of Human Rights

Torture and Custodial violence

In criminal jurisprudence the wider interpretation of the term ‘custodial violence’ may include all kinds of physical and mental torture inflicted upon, or inhuman or degrading treatment given to, a person in police custody. It also includes death and torture in police lock-ups.  In the absence of a specific definition given to it in law, but considering the spirit of Article 35 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, custodial violence may be divided into two categories (a) torture and cruel punishment; and (b) inhuman or degrading treatment. Torture has been broadly defined as act of a public official, or other person acting with the consent, instigation or acquiescence of a public official by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental is intentionally inflicted on a person for the purposes of obtaining information or confession or punishing him for an act he has committed or suspected of having committed. On the other hand, inhuman and degrading treatment may be construed to include any act that affects a person’s fundamental rights to life and liberty i.e. right to food, sanitation, medical care, humane behaviour, recreation, skill development etc.

Violence in police custody varies from calling names, slapping, kicking, beating, sexual harassment and rape to most heinous instances like death. Keeping people in lock-up like animals, providing inadequate or no food or drink, keeping man, women, children together are also inhuman practices existing in police custody.

Extra-judicial killing of accused persons in crossfire has become a hot topic of discussions and is being strongly condemned by the civil society, rights groups and media. According to news paper reports a total of 356 suspects were killed in cross-fire since the inception of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Notably, all instances of crossfire killing did not happen during investigation by RAB. Police killed a large number of people in crossfire during investigation as well. Whether death of a person in crossfire (during investigation) should be held as custodial death is yet to be determined. In recent public meetings the government has assured of due investigation and enquiry of each of crossfire death case. In addition to the recent phenomenon of crossfire a total of 10 suspects died in police custody in the first three months of 2005 (the Daily Star report in April 2005).

Our Constitution emphatically prohibits any kind of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment on a detainee. Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984, to which Bangladesh is, signatory also prohibits any kind of torture or degrading treatment of an arrested person.

The Constitution of Bangladesh expressly prohibits torture and other forms of cruel and degrading treatment under Article 35 (5). Several provisions of the Cr. P.C call for judicial scrutiny by magistrates in the event of granting detentions and remand with a view to reducing if not eliminating custodial torture. Causing hurt to a person in order to extract confession, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, rape and murder are punishable offences under the Bangladesh Penal Code. Also, Article 35 provides that a person shall not be compelled to be a witness against himself and Section 25 of the Evidence Act provides that an arrested person should not be coerced and intimidated to answer self- incriminating questions.

Instrument of Custodial Torture and Death

Arbitrary Arrests

Arbitrary arrests have become synonymous with Section 54 of the Cr. P.C and Police Ordinances under the four metropolitan cities, namely, Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna. Section 54 o the Cr. P.C dates back to the colonial era and deemed to have been invented by the British rulers as a decisive weapon to deal with unruly natives, particularly during the time when political situation was getting increasingly volatile. This Section enabled the police to arrest any person any time in any pretext in the name of maintaining law and order. British rulers had gone long ago, so did the West Pakistani regime but Section 54 sustained.

The liberty given to the police to arrest people without warrant under Section 54 of the Cr. P.C and Metropolitan Police Ordinances are almost similar except that Section 54 is applicable throughout the country and the latter are not applicable beyond the respective metropolitan areas.

The grounds for arrest without warrant under Cr. P.C and Metropolitan Police Ordinances are shown below:

Section 54 of the Cr. P. C:

Under Section 54 of the Cr. P.C any police officer may, without an order from a Magistrate or a warrant arrest a person who:

  1. is concerned in any cognizable offence or against whom a complaint has been lodged or credible information received or reasonable suspicion exists of his being so concerned;
  2. possesses any implement of house-breaking (onus is on him to prove otherwise);
  3. is a proclaimed offender;
  4. is suspected of having stolen property in his possession;
  5. obstructs a police-officer in performing his duty or who has escaped or attempts to escape from lawful custody;
  6. is suspected of being deserter from the armed forces;
  7. is concerned in or against whom a complaint has been lodged or credible information received or reasonable suspicion exists of his being so concerned in any act committed at any place out of the country, which if committed in the country would have been punishable offence and for which he is subject to extradition or under the Fugitive Offender Act, 1881 is liable to be apprehended in custody;
  8. is a released convict committing a breach of any rule made by magistrate under Section 565 (3) of the Cr. P.C; or
  9. is subject to arrest following a requisition received from another police officer.

Metropolitan Police Ordinances:

Under the four Metropolitan Police Ordinances, police can arrest a person without warrant, if he is found between sunset and sunrise in following situations:

  1. equipped with dangerous instruments without satisfactory excuse;
  2. with face covered or otherwise disguised without satisfactory excuse;
  3. being present in any dwelling house or other building, or on board any vessel, boat or vehicle without satisfactory reason;
  4. lying or loitering in any street or other places without satisfactory reason;
  5. having in possession implement of house breaking without satisfactory reason.

Arrest without warrant:

The following directions and guidelines may be related to arrest without warrant:

  1. Disclosure of identity, and identity card, if demanded by the person arrested and the persons present, during the arrest and informing relatives or friends of the arrestee about the arrest within one hour of bringing him in the police station

Police do not disclose identity to the arrested persons . The plain-clothed police, in particular, hardly show their identity cards to the arrestees. Neither do they bother to inform the relatives of the arrestee about the arrest. This creates confusion as to the arrest of a person by police. It often also denies the arrestees and his relatives the opportunity to take initiatives for his release or prefer a writ of habeas corpus in applicable cases

  1. Furnishing reasons for arrest to the arrestee within three hours of bringing him in the police station and allowing him to consult a lawyer of his choice or meet his relation

Article 33 of the Constitution mandates that every arrestee shall be informed about the reasons of his arrest, as soon as may be, and be allowed to consult and defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

  1. Recordation of the reasons for arrest and other particulars including the knowledge about the involvement of the person in a cognizable offence, particulars of the offence, circumstances under which arrest was made, the source of information and the reasons for believing the information, date and time of arrest, name and address of the persons, if any, present at the time of arrest and getting it signed by the arrestee

Section 172 of the Cr. P.C require the police officer to maintain a case diary to record time of receiving information, and beginning and closure of investigation related to arrests and searches. A police officer also has to note the place(s) visited by him pursuant to the investigation and write a statement of the circumstances ascertained through his investigation.

The honourable Judges in BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh observed that “if copy of the entries of this diary is produced before the Magistrate and if there are materials before the Magistrate to decide whether the accusation against the person or the information against the person is well founded, he can decide the question whether the person shall be released at once or shall be detained further.

Saifuzzaman vs. State the Supreme Court of Bangladesh stressed on the maintenance of case diary by police and arrest memo detailing everything related to the arrest.

Remand in police custody:

The term ‘remand’ does not exist in Section 167 of Cr. P.C. However, under the Section the concerned magistrate can send an arrested person to jail or police custody in specified circumstances. Although the main purpose of detention in police custody is to conduct investigation, as most of the researches suggest, police to elicit information or extract confessions resort to physical and mental torture, which sometimes lead to death or physical deformity of the detainee. This kind of behaviour of the police is in violation of the provisions of Article 35 of the Constitution, Article 5 of United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, as well as Article 7 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

For the convenience of discussion the relevant directives and guidelines are briefly described below:

  1. Not to arrest a person under section 54 of the Cr. P. C to detain under Special Powers Act, 1974 and the magistrate shall not make an order of detention in that case

In BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh case the Supreme Court decided that,

“police officer cannot arrest a person under section 54 of the Code with a view to detain him under section 3 of the Special Powers Act, 1974. Such arrest is neither lawful nor permissible under section 54.”

  1. Police officer to incorporate reasons in his forwarding letter as to why investigation could not be completed within 24 hours of arrest of a person and why he considers that the accusation or the information against the person is well founded along with transmitting a copy of the case diary

AccoRding to Section 61 of the Cr. P.C, police cannot detain a person arrested under Section 54 for more than 24 hours unless an order thereof has been made by a competent magistrate. Article 33 of the Constitution makes it mandatory for a police officer to comply with such requirement. The main objective of this provision is to ensure that a judicial mind is applied in respect with the legality of the arrests or detention made without warrant.

  1. To take an arrested person to the nearest hospital or government doctor for treatment if the police officer finds or discovers any marks of injury on him

The objective of this directive is to ensure that marks of injury, if any found in the body of the accused persons are noted in the case diary so that the injury sustained before arrest cannot be alleged to have had inflicted in police custody. At the same time, it will also prevent the police to claim that such injuries were sustained before arrest.

  1. To make detention order only if the magistrate is satisfied with the reasons stated in the forwarding letter of the police officer. Otherwise to release the person. To release the accused on taking a bond if the case diary, as prescribed, is not produced.

The police officer is required to state reasons in its forwarding letter seeking detention of a person arrested under Section 54 so that a magistrate can apply judicial mind before granting or rejecting the prayer for detention. The forwarding letter shall be attached with the case diary. If the case diary does not include the required entries, the magistrate shall forthwith release the arrestee.

Case reference regarding Custodial torture and Death

BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh (55 DLR 363)

Saifuzzaman vs. Bangladesh (56 DLR 2004)

  1. K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997) 1 SCC)

Nilabati Behera vs. State of Orissa (1993) 2 SCC)

Protection from Custodial Torture and Death from different aspects

The guaranty of Human Rights in the Constitution of Bangladesh

In PART III of the Constitution of Bangladesh provides the provision of Human Rights which are enforceable by citizen as Fundamental Rights.

Article 27 to 47 are stated as fundamental rights for protection of violation of human rights.

According to Article 31, every citizen has a right to protection of law. It is the inalienable right of every citizen and particular no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation, or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law.

According to Article 32,Every person has a right to life and liberty save in accordance with law.

According to Article 33, every man has a right to get safeguard from arrest and detention. No arrested person shall be detained in custody without being informed, and as soon as may be of the grounds for such arrest. Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours of such arrest. (sub article 1 and 2)

According to Article 35, Every person accused of criminal offence shall have the right to a speedy trial by an impartial and independent court or tribunals. (sub article 3)

No person shall subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment. (sub article 5)

Enforcement of Fundamental Right under the Constitution of Bangladesh

By the Article 44, The Constitution of Bangladesh gives a right to person for institute writ for enforcement of fundamental right under Article 102.

The right to move the High Court Division under Article 102 for the enforcement of the fundamental rights conferred by this guaranteed. (Sub article 1)

The guaranty of Human Rights in International Law

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly by a vote of 48 to nil with 8 abstentions. The General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

The Rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights may  be classified into following four categories :

(i) General (Article 1 and 2)

(ii) Civil and Political (Article 3 to 21)

(iii) Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 22 to 27)

(iv) Concluding (28 to 30)

Safeguards as to Custodial Torture and Death under Civil and Political Rights of Universal Declaration.

According to Article 3, every person has a Right to life, liberty and security.

According to Article 5, every person has a right to get protection from  torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

According to Article 7, every person is equal before law and has a right to get equal protection of law against any discrimination in violation of the Declaration.

According to Article 9, every person has right to protection from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Safeguards as to Custodial Torture and Death under International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966

According to Article 6, every person has a Right to life. And it is an unalienable right of every human being.

According to Article 7, every person has a right to get protection from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and prohibition of medical or scientific experimentation without free consent.

According to Article 9, every person has a right to get liberty, security and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention.

Safeguards as to Custodial Torture and Death in European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950

According to Article 2, every person has a Right to life.

According to Article 3, every person has a right to get freedom from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

According to Article 5(1), every person has a right to get liberty and security.

Article 5(2), right of arrested person to be informed of the reason of his arrest.

Article 5(3), right to be entitled to trial within reasonable time.

Article 5(5), Right of victims of arrest or detention to compensation.

Safeguards as to Custodial Torture and Death in American Convention on Human Rights 1969

According to Article 4, every person has a right to life.

According to Article 7, every person has a right to personal liberty.

According to Article 8, every person has a right to a fair trial before open Court or Tribunal.

The Custodial Torture and Death: The Violation of Human Rights in Bangladesh

Background of Custodial Torture in Bangladesh

Since winning independence from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh has been wracked by violent, adversarial politics and serious challenges to the rule of law.  Two political parties dominate the scene—the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP); the latter held power most recently until October 2006. Both parties have used armed groups and militias in violation of the law to consolidate power and maintain control.  The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), founded under a BNP government in 2004, is the latest example of this practice.

Although this report focuses on RAB, the police and other arms of the security apparatus are also responsible for serious violations, including torture and a large number of extrajudicial deaths.  These violations are part of a degraded human rights environment, in which arbitrary arrests, physical and psychological torture, lengthy pretrial detention, and impunity for security forces are the disturbing norm.  Transparency International’s annual survey of corruption consistently ranks Bangladesh at or near the top of its list of the world’s most corrupt states.

In October 2001 a four-party alliance led by the BNP won over a two-thirds majority in parliament and Begum Khaleda Zia became prime minister for the third time.  The BNP won 41 percent of the vote (compared to the AL’s 40 percent), and formed a coalition with three smaller parties: Jama’at-e-Islami (which won 4.3 percent), Jatiya Party-Naziur (1.1 percent), and Islamic Okye Jote (0.7 percent). Jama’at-e-Islami and Islamic Okye Jote advocate a greater role for Islam in public life.  They have at times been implicated in attacks against Bangladesh’s minority communities.

A central pillar of the BNP’s 2001 electoral campaign was the fight against crime, which had spun out of control.  Frustrated with the government’s lack of response, vigilante mobs were attacking suspected criminals. In December 2001, after the BNP took office, mobs in Dhaka killed an estimated 14 people in 10 days, including four suspected muggers who were hacked to death during daytime on a busy street.  The Zia government quickly came under criticism for failing to establish law and order.  Extortion, kidnappings, and murder continued to rise. The ruling party decided to act.

In October 2002 the government declared the start of Operation Clean Heart, which involved the deployment of more than 40,000 military personnel to fight crime.  The operation lasted 85 days.  During that time the army arrested more than 10,000 people, at least 50 of whom died in custody in unclear circumstances.  Officials attributed most of the deaths to “heart attacks.”

On January 9, 2003, just before the operation came to a close, the BNP proposed legislation to ensure that no member of the armed forces could face prosecution for abuses during the campaign.  The Joint Drive Indemnity Ordinance 2003 was based on an expansive interpretation, in contravention of international law, of article 46 of the Bangladesh constitution. It granted immunity from prosecution to armed forces and government officials for their involvement in “any casualty, damage to life and property, violation of rights, physical or mental damage” between October 16, 2002, and January 9, 2003.  The opposition and human rights groups, as well as two UN special rapporteurs, said the law shielded officials from justice for torture and custodial deaths, but the ordinance passed the BNP-controlled parliament nevertheless.

In April 2003, after a petition from the sister of a torture victim who had died in Operation Clean Heart, the High Court issued a show-cause ruling for the government to explain why the Joint Drive Indemnity Ordinance should not be declared illegal.  The government did not reply. To date, no military personnel are known to have been held criminally responsible for any of the 50 or more custodial deaths.

Operation Clean Heart did not succeed in bringing crime adequately under control, and vigilantism against suspected criminals resumed. In response, the government decided in January 2003 to establish a special unit of police with commando training called the Rapid Action Team, or RAT.  The special police force proved unsuccessful in combating crime due to the lack of trained professionals, disorganization, and corruption in the force.  Building on the experience from Operation Clean Heart, the government took steps to give the military a law enforcement role.

On 11 January 2007 President Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency following weeks of violent election-related clashes between the supporters of the former ruling coalition and supporters of parties opposing them. Elections scheduled for 22 January was postponed indefinitely and a new civilian Caretaker government, backed by the army, sworn in. Under the Emergency, political rallies and other political activity were banned, and some restrictions were imposed on the right to freedom expression.

According to reports in the Bangladesh media, more than 100,000 people have been detained, often in mass arrests, since early January. Arrests, usually conducted by army personnel, are on grounds of alleged corruption or criminal activity. Many of the detainees are believed to have been released but Amnesty International has not been able to establish the total number of those who remain in detention. Among the detainees are reportedly more than 150 politicians and businessmen arrested on charges corruption.

Formation of RAB and as a consequence a grave violation of Human Right

On June 2, 2003, the Cabinet Committee on Law and Order decided to replace RAT with RAB—the Rapid Action Battalion.  Eight months later, in March 2004, the government formally created RAB, although the force did not begin full operations until June of that year.

The government presented RAB as a composite force comprising elite members from the military (army, air force and navy), the police, and members of Bangladesh’s various law enforcement groups. Members were seconded from their parent organizations, to which they returned after serving time with the new force.

RAB’s operations are based on the Armed Police Battalions (Amendment) Act 2003, passed by parliament in July 2003, amending the Armed Police Battalions Ordinance, 1979.  The new law placed RAB under the command of the inspector general of the police and, by extension, the minister of home affairs.  The law requires RAB to be commanded by an officer not below the rank of deputy inspector general of the police or someone of the equivalent rank from the army, navy, air force, or other “disciplined force.”  The main tasks of the RAB, according to the law, are to:

  • Provide internal security
  • Conduct intelligence into criminal activity
  • Recover illegal arms
  • Arrest criminals and members of armed gangs
  • Assist other law enforcement agencies
  • Investigate any offense as ordered by the government.

Critics complained that, rather than build a new crime-fighting force, the government should undertake efforts to reform law enforcement and the courts.  Creating RAB, they feared, would undermine the police.  With Operation Clean Heart in mind, some worried about using the military for civilian policing.  They saw RAB as a way for the government to deploy the army for policing tasks, with one lawyer even calling it “martial law in disguise.”

The opposition Awami League accused the government of creating a force to target its political opponents.  In July the party leadership said that RAB was “a ploy to eliminate Awami League and a unique strategy to violate human rights.”

The government defended the creation of RAB as necessary to combat crime.  “The law and order situation was bad and it had to be contained,” said Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Moudud Ahmed, who was instrumental in setting up the force.  “Our police is inadequate. They do not have sophisticated weapons nor do they have sufficient training.”  He said RAB had to be created because “it is not possible to raise the whole police to a sufficient standard.

At first RAB enjoyed strong popular support.  Wearing black uniforms with black headscarves and wraparound sunglasses, the new force intimidated criminals and the public alike.  It began to arrest known gangsters and thugs and, according to the government, crime dropped.  But complaints of excessive use of force soon began.

RAB focused its work on criminal suspects—usually those who refused to cooperate with government- or BNP-connected gangs.  But that changed on August 17, 2005, when roughly 500 bombs exploded almost simultaneously in 63 of the country’s 64 administrative districts, mostly in front of government buildings.  Two people died in what most analysts considered a show of force more than intent to kill. A militant Islamist group called Jamiatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) claimed responsibility for the attacks to push their cause of establishing an Islamic state in Bangladesh.  Subsequent bomb and suicide attacks around the country killed more than two dozen people, among them lawyers, judges, and other symbols of the secular state.

After the bombings, militants sent threatening letters to judges, lawyers, journalists, government officials, and others to warn them of the need for sharia law.  “As Muslims, we have declared a war to establish the rule of the Koran,” one letter to a journalist said.  “If you continue to make propaganda against us in your newspapers, we will make your parents sonless, your children fatherless and your wives widows.”The government had long denied the existence of militant Islamist groups in Bangladesh, despite pressure from Western governments after September 11, 2001, to take steps.  But the existence of such organizations became undeniable after the synchronized August 2005 attacks, and the government began to arrest alleged members and leaders of the JMB.  In addition to fighting crime, the government deployed RAB in its “anti-terror” fight.  On March 2, 2006, head of the JMB Sheikh Abdur Rahman surrendered to RAB in Sylhet.  Four days later, RAB arrested the JMB’s second-in-command Siddiqul Islam, known as Bangla Bhai.

Extrajudicial Executions by RAB

One of the first publicized RAB killings was of the wanted criminal suspect Pichchi Hannan in Dhaka on August 6, 2004.  RAB first tried to arrest Hannan on June 25 but he escaped after a shootout, during which he was wounded.   RAB arrested him and two accomplices the next day at a hospital on the outskirts of the city, where he was getting medical care (see also the case of Debashish Kumar Das, below).

RAB kept Hannan in custody until August 6, when it announced that he had died “in crossfire.”  According to RAB-1 commander at the time Lt. Col. Chowdhury Fazlul Bari, members of RAB and the Detective Branch (DB) took Hannan with them to arrest other gang members at Diakhali in Savar (north of Dhaka) and Hannan died when the security forces came under attack.   “Two teams of RAB and DB rushed to Diakhali with Hannan on information that the gang members were there in a meeting,” Bari said.  “As soon as the law-enforcers reached the place, the criminals started to shoot away.” But a journalist reporting on the killing found no record at the Savar police station of an armed fight.  Doctors at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital said Hannan might have been shot point-blank and that all the bullet wounds came from the front.

On August 9, then-RAB Director General Anwarul Iqbal said the police would investigate all deaths in RAB custody and hold accountable those found to have violated the law. “If autopsy or forensic reports show the people were killed in custody, unnatural death (UD) cases will be turned into murder cases,” he said.  But no one is known to have been held accountable for Pichchi Hannan’s death.

Throughout 2004 the number of deaths in RAB custody, usually by “crossfire,” continued to rise, reaching roughly 60 by year’s end. RAB frequently publicized the deaths in press releases and by speaking to the media.  The stories were shockingly the same: RAB arrested a “top criminal” and took him with them to retrieve United Nations principles on the prevention and investigation of extrajudicial executions provide detailed guidelines for governments, which Bangladesh has not adopted.  They include the need for “thorough, prompt and impartial investigations” of all suspected unlawful killings to determine the cause of death and the person responsible.  Independent and impartial physicians should perform autopsies in cases of possible unlawful killings, and bodies should be kept until an adequate autopsy is carried out and the family informed of the findings. Where the established investigative procedures are inadequate because of lack of expertise or impartiality, investigations of possible unlawful killings should be pursued through an independent commission of inquiryillegal arms or to arrest cohorts, and the person was killed when the RAB unit came under armed attack.

Lawyers, human rights groups, and some media outlets began to complain, as did the opposition parties, led by the Awami League.  They began to speak about extrajudicial killings at the hands of the state.

The government defended RAB by saying that the people it killed were criminals who threatened law and order.  “Criminals cannot have any human rights,” said State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar at the celebration of RAB’s first anniversary in March 2005.  He attacked human rights organizations for criticizing the force: “When criminals are being killed in encounters, human rights organizations speak out. But when policemen get killed by the criminals, no one speaks about human rights.”62

Other government officials echoed his words.  “A certain quarter does not raise its voice for human rights when a terrorist kills ten to twelve innocent persons,” Finance Minister Md. Saifur Rahman said.  “But this quarter is very active to uphold human rights of a terrorist in crossfire with the law enforcers,” he added.

Ten suspected gang members killed by RAB-7 in front of a Chittagong police station in September 2004. RAB often leaves persons it kills outside for the public and media to see.  © 2004 Zobaer Hossain Sikder

By early 2005 RAB’s role in custodial deaths was not in dispute.  According to media and human rights groups, by March of that year at least 200 people had died in custody, many in “crossfire.” Still the government defended RAB’s work.  On March 26 RAB as’s father, Gajendra Kumar Das, his son first learned about Hannan’s shooting from the television around 8 p.m. on June 25. Das left home and called around 11 that night to say he would be back late because of heavy rain.  The family heard nothing more from him, and the next evening a friend informed them that, according to the television news, Das was dead and his body was at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

When the family arrived at the hospital they saw lots of police, RAB members, and journalists, Gajendra Das said.  A police officer from Uttara told him that he had seen RAB members beating his son.  The hospital prepared the body for funeral so the family could only observe Das’s face, where they saw no wounds or marks.  The authorities never provided the family with an autopsy report, nor did they inform anyone of the cause of death.  On the advice of family and friends, the family decided not to file any criminal case against RAB.

Some painful examples of Custodial Torture and Death

Killing of Sumon Ahmed Majumder

According to RAB arrested Sumon Ahmed Majumder, a garment trader and activist in the Awami League’s youth wing, the Jubo League.  He died after approximately 10 hours in custody, apparently from wounds sustained in custody.

Age 23, Majumder was vice president of the Jubo League’s ward No. 10 in Tongi.  He was also a witness to the May 7, 2004 murder of Awami League parliamentarian and well known trade union leader Ahsan Ullah Master. Opposition parties said that RAB had killed Majumder to hide the government’s involvement in Ahsan Ullah Master’s death.

According to three members of Majumder’s family, the victim spent the morning and early afternoon of July 15 campaigning for Jahid Ahsan Russel, the Awami League candidate in the Gazipur by-election, which was held after Ahsan Ullah Master died. Russel was Master’s son.

Majumder arrived home around 2:30 p.m., and shortly thereafter a policeman the family identified as Assistant Sub Inspector Monir from Tongi and a BNP activist named Abdul Ali came to the house.  Abdul Ali, the family said, is the brother of one of the main suspects in the Ahsan Ullah Master murder.

According to Majumder’s mother, Monir suggested that Majumder stop his political activities with the Awami League and join the BNP. If he did, Abdul Ali would pay him 2,000 taka per day (about US$30). Majumder responded that he would not switch sides and Monir warned that this decision would cost him a great price. The two men left the house, but Abdul Ali returned a few minutes later to tell Majumder that Monir wanted to speak with him again.  Majumder and Monir spoke briefly outside the house.

Five or ten minutes later, around 3 p.m., two unknown men in civilian clothes arrived at the door and asked if Majumder lived in the house.  The family said yes and one of the men made a phone call to an unknown person, saying that they had located Majumder. Very quickly, a large group of armed men arrived. All of them wore civilian clothes except for one man in a RAB vest, Majumder’s mother said. The man in charge identified himself to her as Sub Inspector Shahjahan from RAB.

Majumder was taking a shower when the men arrived but they arrested him right away and took him to a minibus waiting outside. The family saw him being blindfolded.  According to the human rights group Odhikar, which reported on the case in its 2004 annual report, RAB asked Majumder if he was a witness to the murder of Ahsan Ullah Master. Odihkar also reported that one RAB official told Majumder, “You will be killed by BNP supporters, now we are going to do the same thing.”

At the same time as RAB arrested Majumder, the force arrested two other men from the area: Akbar Hossain Pinku, age 20, and Majumder’s cousin, known as Lokman, age 22.  RAB blindfolded these men as well, and took them together in the minivan.

Inside the van, someone put a gun to Lokman’s head, Lokman told Human Rights Watch. Another person said they were going to kill Majumder and that they could also kill Lokman, dumping his body on the road. According to Lokman, the van drove to the RAB-1 headquarters in Uttara.  Around 8 p.m. RAB members took the blindfolds off Lokman, Majumder, and Pinku, and brought them to an outhouse in the middle of a field inside the compound.

Around this time, Majumder’s father, Monir Ahmed Majumder, learned of his son’s arrest.  He contacted the police but they claimed to have no information about the arrest.

Inside the outhouse, RAB members made all three men sit on the floor. Three RAB officials then started beating them with large batons as they asked them who had killed Assan Ullah Master. In total, RAB beat Lokman, Majumder, and Pinku for about three hours. One of the RAB members then received a phone call and Lokman could hear the man responding, “Sir, the people you were talking about have been found. We have them here and will give them a treatment.”

After the phone call, some RAB members got a large electric drill with a bit as thick as an index finger, Lokman said. They drilled into the side of Majumder’s right calf.  They connected electric wires to the same socket as the drill and put these live wires on the wound.

Around 11 p.m. RAB members took Majumder, Pinku, and Lokman to a white minivan. Majumder had lapsed into unconsciousness and a RAB member poured water on his face to wake him up.  Majumder partially woke up.

The van drove to the Tongi police station, Lokman said, but the officer in charge refused to take the three men because of their physical state.  RAB took them to the Tongi Hospital, where doctors bandaged Majumder’s leg.

This account was confirmed by the human rights group Odhikar, which spoke with the policeman on duty in Tongi that night, Sub Inspector Rafiq.  The policeman told Odhikar that RAB officials led by Sub Inspector Shajahan brought Majumder, Pinku, and Lokman to the station at 9:45 p.m. but he refused to accept them due to their poor medical condition.  RAB took them to Tongi Hospital, Sub Inspector Rafiq said, and brought them back to the police station with medical certificates around 11:20 p.m.  At that time, they filed a complaint of extortion against the three, on behalf of a businessman named Tajul Islam.  Around 12:05, Sub Inspector Rafiq learned that Majumder’s condition had worsened, so he sent him to the hospital for a second time.  At 1:30 a.m. Sub Inspector Rafiq learned that Majumder had died.

“Sumon’s [Majumder’s] condition deteriorated after the RAB officials left the police station and we sent him to Tongi Health Complex where he died at 1:30 a.m.,” an unnamed officer at the Tongi police station told the press.

The human rights group Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) also conducted an investigation into Majumder’s death and viewed hospital records that confirm Majumder’s treatment that night.  Case number 3116 in the Tongi Hospital registry shows that Majumder was treated around 10:30 p.m. for assault and shock, a deep laceration on the right leg, and swelling on different parts of the body.  ASK also saw the police report from that night, which said that the police had charged Majumder and two accomplices with extortion under the Speedy Trial Act.  Majumder was injured while resisting arrest, the report said.

The ASK investigation looked at other documents, including an unnatural death case (number 17/04, July 16, 2004) filed by Sub Inspector Rafiqul Islam after Majumder’s death.  RAB Sub Inspector Shahjahan and other members of RAB-1 arrived at Tongi police station at 9:25 p.m. to hand over Majumder, Lokman, and Pinku, ASK reported. According to Odhikar, the unnatural death case named several RAB officials.

The family learned of Majumder’s death around 8 a.m. the following day.  Majumder’s father, who saw the body, said he observed a deep cut under one of the knees.  Under one foot he saw wounds that looked as if they were made by a drill.  There were deep holes on several places on the legs, he said, as well as a bruise on the right cheek.

Majumder’s uncle, Abdus Salam, prepared the body for funeral.  He said that Majumber had deep wounds on his legs, shins, and calves.  He had a 15 centimeter cut on the back of his neck, although that might have been from the autopsy.  He also saw bruises all over the body, in particular on the upper parts of the arms.

In a statement, RAB said that Majumder was killed when an angry mob beat him after he was caught collecting extortion money with two accomplices from a local businessman.

After the death, Majumder’s father received anonymous warnings not to file a complaint.  He tried to file a case with the local police nevertheless, but a police official named Tharikul Islam told him that no complaints could be filed against RAB.

To date, no RAB members are known to have been held accountable for Majumder’s death.  According to Lokman, a court sentenced him to three years in prison and Pinku to two.  Both were acquitted on appeal and released in July 2005.

On April 16, 2005, a Dhaka court sentenced 22 people to death and six others to life imprisonment for murdering the Awami League MP Ahsan Ullah Master—the highest number of capital punishments ever handed down at one time in Bangladesh.  Twelve of the convicted men were in custody, while the 16 others were tried in absentia and remained at large.

Killing of Debashish Kumar Das

On June 26, 2004, RAB forces in Dhaka arrested a 32-year-old father of two, Debashish Kumar Das, a fish trader at Dhaka’s Karwan Bazar, along with two other men suspected of criminal acts.  About six hours later RAB brought Das to the hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

The day before, RAB in the Uttara area of Dhaka had tried to arrest Pichchi Hannan (see above).  Hannan and his cohorts escaped after a shootout but he sustained injuries and reportedly went for treatment at Savar hospital on the outskirts of Dhaka. The next day, two associates of Hannan, Shaheb Ali and Debashish Kumar Das, went to visit Hannan in the hospital.  Around 6 p.m. RAB arrived and arrested all three men.

Das was reportedly not injured during the arrest, but around 11:45 that night RAB brought him to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where he died.  An acquaintance of Das’s who saw the body at the hospital said he noticed no injury other than a wound, possibly from a bullet, on the side of the right knee. But one journalist reported that, according to sources at the morgue, both of Das’s hands and legs were broken.  The man arrested with Das, Shehab Ali, was reportedly taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Killing of Anisur Rahman

On October 1, 2004, in Dhaka, members of RAB-4 arrested Anisur Rahman, a local leader of the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), the BNP’s student wing, together with two friends.  RAB released the two friends after a brief detention but transferred Rahman to the hospital on October 2, where he died from wounds apparently suffered in detention.

The 27-year-old Rahman was an organizing secretary of the JCD’s ward No. 47 unit and a Dhaka City Corporation contractor from the area of Mohammadpur.  The reasons for his arrest and apparent death in custody remain unclear.  RAB claimed he was a criminal, but a local member of parliament and the victim’s relatives said he was innocent of any crime. According to Ain o Salish Kendra, which investigated the case, RAB was actually searching for Anisur’s older brother Sohel, who is a businessman and central committee member of the JCD.

The arrest took place around 2:30 a.m. as Rahman and his friends Rubel and Jahangir were leaving the Chhata mosque near Rahman’s home in Mohammadpur. The RAB-4 team proceeded to Rahman’s home, two witnesses said, where they searched the premises without a warrant.  RAB found nothing and left.

Relatives began to search for Rahman later that day.  Guards at RAB-4 in Mirpur Paikpara confirmed they were holding Rahman but they did not allow anyone to visit.

On October 2, RAB conducted a second search of the Rahman home, with Rubel and Jahangir in tow, again without a warrant.  A witness said he overheard a RAB-4 officer, Sub Inspector Ali Hossain, tell a family member that Rahman would be “taken out.”  The officers found nothing in the house and left.

That afternoon, around 5:45, RAB transferred Rahman to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.  According to a press report, Sub Inspector Ali Hossain stated at the time that Rahman was a criminal and that he had passed out from fear.

When relatives and friends visited Rahman at the hospital on October 3, they found him guarded by RAB members in the intensive care unit.1 Doctors said he had suffered brain damage and an injured kidney and that they could do nothing to save his life.  According to one man who was present, a doctor said that Rahman was injured from torture.

RAB prevented visitors from approaching Rahman, but one visitor told Human Rights Watch that he saw bruises on several parts of Rahman’s body, in particular on the legs, and swelling of the fingers.

Rahman died around 10 p.m. on October 4. Following his death, a witness who spoke with Human Rights Watch said he observed RAB Sub Inspector Ali Hossain and Captain Iqbal remove Rahman’s documents from the hospital file.

The hospital gave the family the body on October 5.  An autopsy had been conducted and the body was in a plastic bag.  The family has not filed a criminal complaint about the death.

On December 21, 2004, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions requested information about Rahman’s death.  As of November 2006, the Bangladeshi government had not replied.

Killing of Abul Kalam Azad Sumon

On May 30, 2005, RAB forces arrested three young men in Dhaka.  They released two of the men 30 days later but killed the third, Abul Kalam Azad Sumon, an active member of the Awami League’s student wing.  According to RAB, he was a notorious criminal who died in “crossfire” with an armed gang.  His family and local human rights groups allege that RAB extrajudicially executed him in detention.

According to witnesses and the victim’s family, Sumon, age 22, left his home around 9 p.m. to go to work.  Sumon was an accountant at a local cable operator called Lorel International in East Goran of Dhaka’s Khilgaon district, and he went to the office every night to close the books.

Shortly after Sumon arrived, one of his colleagues said, three men in civilian clothes came to his office on the first floor.  Two of the men revealed guns and asked the four employees and two visitors present to identify themselves.  One of the men took three vests with “RAB” printed on the back from a shoulder bag, and the three men put them on.  They handcuffed Sumon and two other employees, Hanif and Bidyut.  The RAB forces blindfolded Sumon and Hanif, but not Bidyut, and took the three men outside, saying they had been searching for the men in relation to hidden arms.

Around 10 p.m. Sumon’s parents got information that RAB had arrested their only son, and Sumon’s father Abdul Hakim and his mother Amela Khatun set out to find him. They visited the local police station in Khilgaon and the head office of the Detective Branch near Minto Road, where officers suggested they contact RAB-3, the RAB unit in charge of Khilgaon.

Around 2:30 a.m. the parents reached the RAB-3 office at Tikatuli where, while talking to the guard, they saw their son sitting in the back of a white minibus about five meters inside the compound. He was blindfolded, Abdul Hakim told Human Rights Watch, and he looked semi-conscious.

A RAB-3 official initially denied that RAB had Sumon in custody, but he then said that RAB would transfer Sumon to the Khilgaon police station in the morning.  Shortly thereafter, Sumon’s parents saw the RAB vehicle leave the station and drive south towards Sayedabad.  Around 5:00 a.m. Abdul Hakim went to the Khilgaon police station, where he saw a police van with the dead body of his son lying in the back.  The police handed the body over to the family that night around 8 a.m.  The body had several bullet wounds in the chest, as well as signs of torture, Abdul Hakim said.

A relative of Sumon who was present when an autopsy was conducted at Dhaka Medical College and who prepared Sumon’s body for funeral told Human Rights Watch that he saw severe bruises on Sumon’s legs, under his feet, and on his back.  He saw a gash on his forehead, and the cheek bones were broken on both sides.  There were six bullet wounds in his chest and upper abdomen, and two more in the right arm.

Human Rights Watch viewed a copy of the magistrate’s body exam that was largely consistent with the relative’s claim, reporting six bullet wounds, a half-inch cut above the nose and a quarter-inch cut above the left eyebrow.

On May 31 RAB issued a statement saying that, in a fierce gun battle around 3:30 that morning, RAB forces had shot and killed a notorious criminal named Goailya Sumon, who had murdered two men in Khilgaon.  RAB struck the victim with bullets three times in the head and chest when he tried to escape the scene during a shootout.  Some media, however, suggested that Goailya Sumon and Abul Kalam Azad Sumon were two different people, with the former being the criminal.  The officer in charge at the Khilgaon police station, for example, said his station had no cases against any Sumon and the Sabujbagh police said Goailya Sumon was accused of three cases, including one for murder.

The family questioned how RAB could have killed their son at 3:30 in the morning when they had arrested him from his office around 9 the previous night.  “RAB has just cooked up a reason for killing him,” Sumon’s mother told the press.  “They arrested him at 9:30 p.m. and I saw him in the jeep at 2:30 a.m., so how could he commit a robbery the same night at 3 a.m.?”

After Sumon’s death, his parents attempted to file a complaint with the Khilgaon police station, but officers at the station refused to register the case, they said.  On July 6, Sumon’s mother instead filed a case with the Dhaka court against Home Minister Babar, Home Secretary Safar Raj Hossain, RAB Director General Abdul Aziz Sarkar, several RAB-3 officers and a leader of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (the BNP’s student wing). The judge ordered a judicial inquiry into Sumon’s death. The case was ongoing at this writing.

According to Sumon’s father, the family has received repeated threats from visitors in civilian clothes, and anonymous phone calls. They warned him not to pursue the case and that he would face the same fate as his son if he does.  On March 18, 2006, Abdul Hakim said, the police detained him without explanation and beat him with a large baton.  Four days later he showed Human Rights Watch dark and large bruises on both legs and the right arm.

According to Sumon’s parents, their son was killed because he had recently switched from the youth league of the BNP to the Awami League.  On May 6, they said, while distributing leaflets about a proposed overpass being built in their neighborhood, a local Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leader threatened Sumon that he would teach him “a good lesson.”  “But even if he had been a criminal, he should have been judged by a court—not by RAB,” Sumon’s mother said two men arrested with Sumon, Hanif and Bidyut, were released without charge after having spent The other about a month in detention.

Suggestion on Protection from Custodial Torture and Death

Despite relevant safeguards available under the Constitution, international conventions and procedural laws, the instances of torture in police custody have significantly increased in recent years. According to the survey report prepared by BLAST, nine out of 46 respondents confirmed that they were taken to remand. Their count of torture in police custody included misbehavior, beating, slapping, and electric shock, beating on the feet, beating with the arrestee hung from the roof, indiscriminately kicking several arrestees together, and coercing to elicit information and extract confession.

Supreme Court’s directives and guidelines relating to torture and custodial violence are described below:

  1. The investigating officer to interrogate the accused for the purpose of investigation in a room in the jail specially made for that purpose with glass wall and grill in one side within the view but not hearing of a close relation or lawyer of the arrestee. In the application for taking the accused in police custody for interrogation, the investigating officer to state grounds for taking the accused to the custody

The above directives are meant to ensure that police refrain from torturing an arrestee in the custody for eliciting information or extracting confession.

The Supreme Court has also directed the investigation officer to state grounds for taking the accused to the custody. If the grounds for remand stated are not satisfactory to the magistrate the accused should be released forthwith instead of sending to the custody.

  1. Magistrate to proceed against the concerned police officer as per Section 190 (1)(c) of the Cr. P.C for committing offence under Section 220 of the Penal Code if the grounds for remand stated in the forwarding letter of the police is not satisfactory or if there are no materials in the case diary

The directive requires a magistrate to take cognisance of an offence committed by the concerned police officer as per Section 220 of the Penal Code if he does not maintain the case diary properly and the reasoning for arrests as well as seeking remand of the suspect stated in his forwarding letter or arrest memo are not satisfactory to the magistrate.

Section 220 of the Penal Code enables the magistrate to invoke a sentence of imprisonment up to seven years or fine or both to a person who with the legal authority to send people for trial, for confinement or keeping persons in confinement does so in contrary to law and with the knowledge of such violation. In BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh the Judges stressed on the maintenance by police proper case diary and provide adequate reasoning for arrest of a person without warrant or for seeking remand. Non-compliance of these requirements will be treated as committal of offence by the concerned police officer under Section 220 of the Penal Code.

  1. To comply with recommendations B(2)(c)(d) and B(3)(b)(c)(d) should the magistrate authorise detention of an accused

Recommendations B(2)(c) and (d) of the Supreme Court in BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh require a magistrate to be satisfied with the reasons of arrest and remand stated in the case diary and forwarding letter of the police and to ensure that the accused was accorded an opportunity to consult a lawyer of his choice. The magistrate also needs to hear the accused before passing of a remand order, which shall not exceed three days.

Recommendations B(3)(b)(c)(d) are related to medical examination of the accused on remand as well as proceedings against torture in police custody. The directives require that before taking a person to remand he shall be examined by a designated doctor or medical board constituted for the purpose.

  1. To inform the concerned magistrate of the death of a person in police custody and the magistrate to enquire into the matter

Any kind of death in police custody is unexpected and unwarranted. Police are meant to protect people’s life not to kill them. While death may happen naturally or following injury sustained before arrest, the most unacceptable death in police custody is one which results from torture.

Article 9 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation

The directive requires the concerned police officer to inform the magistrate immediately about the death of any person in custody. After receipt of such information the magistrate is required to proceed for a judicial inquiry into such death.

The Constitution in its Part – III categorically and emphatically enshrined the fundamental rights of the people. Any law, rule, order, ordinance or any act that is inconsistent, or in conflict, with fundamental rights are ultra vires, hence unenforceable (Art. 26). At the same time, considering the necessity of some discretionary power needed by the government to protect public interests and maintain law and order it has provided for few circumstances when certain fundamental rights can be temporarily taken away by the government only in accordance with law (Articles 33 (3) (b), 47, 47A, for example)

Regarding the death in custody of Cholesh Richil, Amnesty International is urging the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh to:

  • Make public the terms of reference of the judicial commission formed to investigate the death in custody of Cholesh Richil.
  • Ensure that its mandate is extended to cover allegations of torture of Tohin Hadima, Piren Simsung, and Protap Jambila.
  • Ensure that all witnesses are able to submit evidence to the commission without fear or threat of reprisal.
  • Ensure that its findings and the report that it will submit to the government will be made public.
  • Ensure that those identified as responsible for the death in custody of Cholesh Richil are brought to justice in a fair trial without delay.

Regarding the alleged torture of Shahidul Islam, Amnesty International urging the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh to:

  • Institute an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations that Shahidul Islam has been tortured.
  • Ensure that the terms of reference of the investigation includes access to the Joint Forces personnel accused of involvement in torture. Ensure that all witnesses, including family members and human rights defenders are protected by the Caretaker government against possible reprisal by the perpetrators of torture.
  • Ensure that the outcome of the investigation is made public, and those identified as perpetrators of torture of the Shahidul Islam are brought to justice in a fair trial.

Amnesty International’s recommendations on the prevention of torture in Bangladesh:

Amnesty International is urging the Caretaker government to:

  • Establish clear and enforceable safeguards against abuse of administrative detention procedures during the state of emergency which result in torture.
  • Publicly declare that all reports and complaints of torture must be promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated. A clear and unequivocal message should be given to the army, police and other security agencies that torture is a prohibited act, that it plays no part in the combating of crime or the maintenance of public order, and that it will never be tolerated.
  • Take urgent steps to ensure access to detainees, especially during periods of custodial interrogation. Relatives, doctors and lawyers should have access to detainees without delay and regularly thereafter.
  • Ensure that a prompt, impartial, independent and thorough investigation is conducted in all cases where there are reasonable grounds to believe torture or other human rights violations may have occurred, with a view to promptly filing appropriate charges in court.
  • Ensure such investigations include full access to all those suspected of involvement in torture or other human rights violations, including Joint Forces personnel.
  • Protect witnesses including family members and human rights defenders against possible reprisal by the perpetrators of torture or other human rights violations.

Provide compensation to the torture victims or their families.