Friday, June 18, 2010

"There is no Cross Fire!" Says Law Minister ...

50 People Died In Last Five Months!

Contrary to the Government's claim that there were no "crossfire" or around 50 people have been allegedly killed by the members of different law enforcement agencies during the last five months this year.

 It is alleged that at least one person has been killed in an extra judicial manner, every four days in this period.
According to a report prepared by a Human Rights Organisation 'Odhikar', 24 people have been killed in "crossfire" between January and March. Of these, 12 people were killed allegedly by RAB, nine by the Police while three people were killed during joint operations by the RAB and Police. Five have been alleged custodial deaths.

In the month of April, there have been nine "crossfire" deaths - five have been killed allegedly by the RAB and four by the Police. Among the deceased, two belonged to the Gono Mukti Fouz, one from Gono Bahini, one Biplobi Communist Party, and one Islami Chhatro Shibir. One was an alleged robber while three were alleged criminals, according to the 'Odhikar.'

In May the total "crossfire" casualties stood at 17. It has been alleged that of these, seven were killed by RAB and nine by police. One person was killed in a joint operation of RAB and police. Four were alleged custodial deaths. Besides, five people were killed in the capital during an encounter between the RAB and alleged criminals within the first 11 days of the current month. The total number of the extrajudicial killings this year stands at 55.

It may be pointed out that on March 1, this year Dr. Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister at a high-level meeting of the UN Human Rights Council at Geneva, stated that Bangladesh was fully committed to stopping extra-judicial killings. Just recently, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed stepped up his claims by declaring that, "no more crossfire incidents are taking place in the country. It has stopped."

Human rights activists, lawyers and even the judiciary has every now and then expressed concerns at the rising number of extra-judicial killings despite repeated assurances by the Government. In a conversation with a national daily named 'The Independent' BNP leader Moudud Ahmed said the incidence of extra judicial killings reflects the absolute failure of the government and the rule of law.

Executive director of Ain O Shalish Kendra and also former adviser Sultana Kamal said the government had assured to show zero tolerance to extrajudicial killings but these had not stopped. However, when contacted, commander M Sohail, PSC director of the RAB media wing told The Independent that the RAB was not involved in any extra-judicial killings.

He claimed the RAB was engaged basically in protecting the government and public properties. The only killings by the RAB were inadvertant, when criminals tried fleeing during custody. But this cannot be categorised as extra-judicial killing or crossfire, he added.

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