Friday, December 11, 2009

Speakers tell roundtable

Extrajudicial killings obstacle to democracy

By Bangladesh Media; Speakers at a roundtable yesterday underscored the need for an immediate end to the extrajudicial killings for the sake of smooth growth of democracy as well as civilisation. Demanding executive investigation to all killings by an independent commission and trial of the people involved, they said political parties, media, civil society and people will have to raise their voice unitedly against extrajudicial killings. Odhikar and the New Age organised the roundtable titled 'Extrajudicial killings and rule of law' at a convention centre in the city to mark the World Human Rights Day.

Maj Gen (retd) Moinul Hossain Chowdhury, former adviser to a caretaker government, said the reason behind 'crossfire' or 'death in custody' is social indiscipline and 'criminalisation of law enforcement agencies and even in judiciary'. A civilised society does not have laws like section 54, he said, adding that remand means beating a person first and then starting an investigation. 

“We are still living in a society where nobody except the elitists, has the access to justice,” he said, adding: “Rule of law will not be established unless we come out of such things.” “The rule of law will be established only when the 'black laws' like section 54 and anti-terrorism act are revoked,” he said. Moinul said the more the countries have commissions, the more the incidents of corruption and misrule are taking place there. Politicians will have to decide how they will rule the country, the former adviser said, urging the lawmakers to put themselves above the general masses. He hoped that the trial of all the extrajudicial killings would be held one day. 

Former science and ICT minister Abdul Moyeen Khan said no killing whether it is judicial or not is acceptable. The BNP leader said a provision of death penalty through legal process exists in the country which should be repealed immediately, adding that there might be mistakes in the legal procedures and it is not possible to bring back lives after giving death penalties. Admitting to the extrajudicial killings which took place during the tenure of the BNP-Jamaat alliance government, he said apart from accepting mistakes, it is also necessary to bring the people involved to book. “The application of law should be equal to all, otherwise rule of law will not be established,” Moyeen said, adding that the criminalisation process, which exists everywhere, needs to be stopped. “It is not possible to rectify an injustice by doing another injustice.” Change in the mindset, legal system and political culture are necessary, the former minister said, adding that the issue of human rights should be considered as a whole. 

Manjurul Alam, brother-in-law of Kaisar Mahmud Bappi who was allegedly killed in crossfire, said apart from killing their son, their dignity and values were also snatched. “We won't get back our son but at least we can expect compunction from the authorities concerned,” he said. 

Adviser of Odhikar Dr Ahmed Ziauddin said, “A culture of denying accepting responsibilities and liabilities exists in the society as we neither admit our mistakes nor work for correcting those.” It is surprising and regretful that the incidents of extrajudicial killings are still taking place despite the recent pledge of the head of the government, he added. 

Prof Piash Karim of Brac University said, “We are against any kind of extrajudicial killings and trial of all these killings is our moral as well as political obligation.” Shah Zikrul Ahmed MP said it is not possible to stop extrajudicial killings without being respectful towards the rule of law. 

Demanding trial of all extrajudicial killings through proper investigations, Shammi Akhter MP said every political party becomes hypocrite after going to power, as they cannot work beyond the party's interest. Presided over by Nurul Kabir, editor of the New Age, the roundtable was also addressed by Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of Odhikar, Saiful Haq, general secretary of Biplobi Workers Party, Mahbubul Alam, central committee member of Communist Party of Bangladesh, Dr Faizul Hakim, secretary of Jatiya Mukti Council, Mustain Zahir of the fortnightly Chinta and advocate Sultana Akhter Rubi.

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