Deaths in police custody continue

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The police continue to torture, kill and maim citizens in custody with impunity flouting Supreme Court directives.
Arrests of citizens on suspicion under the controversial Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also continues defying the superior court order said rights lawyers.
Custodial torture and deaths continue to occur as the government failed to enact a law as directed by the High Court in 2003.
The HC verdict requires the government to make the law detailing the procedures of arrest and interrogation in order to stop  custodial torture and deaths.
At least 80 citizens were reportedly killed in police custody since January 6, 2009, according to rights organization Odhikar and newspaper reports.
Odhikar reported 75 citizens were beaten to death in police custody between January 6, 2009 and May 31, 2013.
According to newspaper reports, five citizens died in police custody in Savar, Sylhet and in Raipur police station in Laxmipur and Khulna in 16 days since June 1.
According to the Odhikar, 21 persons were allegedly tortured to death in 2009, 22 persons in 2010, 17 persons in 2011, seven persons in 2012 and eight in last five month from January.
‘The actual figure of custodial deaths would be much higher,’ Odhikar said.
Often victims’ families do not disclose the incidents because of weak justice dispensation system and out of fear of harassment, Odhikar’s secretary Adilur Rahman Khan told New Age.
Recalling the landmark judgement, the  High Court delivered on April 7, 2003 issuing a series of directives for stopping abuse of power by the police and other law enforcement personnel in arresting persons on suspicion and interrogating them in remanded or custody, jurist Shahdeen Malik, said, ‘It is an irony that the persons, who are arrested on charge of committing serious crimes against humanity in 1971, only got privilege of the HC directive as their lawyers and relatives were allowed to be present during their interrogations in custody.’
Shahdeen, also BRAC University law faculty director, said that all other accused should get similar privileges.
Extra judicial killings became a common practice since the Rapid Action Battalion was created in 2004, he said.
Successive governments used RAB for containing crimes, he added.
Since extra-judicial killings became the  order of the day the government preferred not take the HC directives into cognizance,  Shahdeen said.
He said that when extra judicial killings become the principal strategy of curbing crimes the authorities only prefer to ignore the custodial deaths of citizens in police beatings.
In the verdict delivered by a bench of Justice Md Hamidul Haque and Justice Salma Masud Chowdhury on April 7, 2003, had directed the authorities concerned to build rooms with glass walls in jails for interrogation of the arrested.
Until such arrangements are made, the arrested will be interrogated at jail gates in the presence of their relatives and lawyers, the court had directed.
No rooms with glass walls have been set up in the jails as yet and no relative or lawyer have been allowed to be present during the interrogation of the arrested.
In the verdict, the High Court issued a 15-point directive to the government and asked police officers, magistrates, jail officials and sessions’ judges to ensure that citizens’ human rights were not violated.
The directives were issued following a public interest writ petition filed by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust and a number of other rights organisations and activists challenging the abuse of arbitrary powers by the police and other law enforcement agencies in arresting citizens  on suspicion and torturing them in remand or police lock-ups.
The writ petition was filed in November 1998 in the backdrop of the government’s inaction in implementing and making public the recommendations made by the judicial inquiry commission of Justice Habibur Rahman Khan, formed to investigate the killing of Shamim Reza Rubel, a university student who died in custody of the Detective Branch on July 23, 1998.
He was arrested on suspicion under the controversial Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
None of the directives has yet been followed said BLAST lawyer M Idrisur Rahman although the High Court’s verdict was upheld by the Appellate Division on August 2, 2003.
The Appellate Division also directed the authorities ‘to observe the law, in letter and spirit and implement the HC directives in six months from August 2, 2003, he added.
The Appellate Division, however, allowed the government to appeal against the HC verdict  in which the court asked the government to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure, he added.

Source: New Age