Extra judicial killings, disappearances, corruption are main human rights concerns
Forced disappearances, extra judicial killings and corruption are Bangladesh’s major human rights concern. The US Human Rights Reports 2012 identified complicity of law enforcers in human rights violations, lack of accountability on the part of government officials and government obstruction of freedom of speech as key obstacles to human rights. The US Secretary of State John Kerry submitted the report on Friday. The human rights conditions in 199 countries were reported this year.
The report said discrimination against marginalised groups, forced disappearances and poor labour rights and working conditions are some of the major human rights constraints in Bangladesh.
Marginalised groups, particularly Rohingya refugees, ethnic minorities and women are victims of widespread inequalities and discrimination. There is lack of security in work places and labourers are prevented from forming unions. The report expressly highlighted the Ashulia garment fire incident on November 24.
The report also identified arbitrary arrests, detention and custodial deaths as significant human rights problems. It said poor judiciary power and long periods of imprisonment before trials are fairly common occurrences. Corruption is rampant at government level and political turbulence is prevalent. Violence against religious and ethnic minorities still remains largely unchecked.
The report also said government or government agents are involved in illegal and autocratic murders. The government has failed to publish any statistics on total killings by security forces and did not undertake appropriate measures to investigate into the killings, despite its assurance of zero-tolerance in this matter.
It was reported that 169 people were killed 17161 people were injured in political violence. The report also mentioned Bishwajit’s brutal murder on December 9 and its subsequent publicity in media.
On forced disappearances and kidnappings, the report alleged the involvement of security agency like RAB and Criminal Investigation Division in most forced disappearance cases, the number of which stood at 24 in 2012.The report accused RAB and police forces of inflicting physical and mental torture on detainees. They have known to beat, threaten, intimidate and electrocute their suspects during interrogation. There have been 13 incidents of rape and sexual harassment by law enforcers.
The report criticized prison conditions by pointing out that all prisons and detentions centres are housing more than double the number of inmates they are equipped to handle. Authorities can also arbitrarily arrest people without proper arrest warrants.
Although, legally the judicial system is completely independent, this independence is not properly enforced. A Human Rights Watch report said lawyers of war criminal accused are constantly being subject to threats and intimidation. The judicial system fails to operate effectively due to corruption and red-tape.
Although the constitution allows for political gatherings and rallies, the government often willfully and unconstitutionally restricts political gatherings. Last year, Section 144 was clamped 105 times. There is also incidences of arbitrary arrests and detention of opposition leaders and activists.
The justice system is running under the government’s influence. Charges brought against opposition leaders are processed slowly. The Appellate Division denied bail to many opposition leaders even though there were ample legal precedents to support the bail.
The US rights report criticized the government’s decision not to shelter any more Rohingya refugees. It also pointed out the attacks on Buddhist temples on September 29 in Ramu.