437 killed in the last 10 months, the rights group says
There has been an alarming rise in cases of extrajudicial killings with 437 killed during the last 10 months till October 31 this year, human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) has said in a report.
According to the report, 437 people have been killed in incidents of ‘gunfight’ and ‘crossfire’ with law enforcement, in custody or being shot by law enforcement.
This is the highest number of extra judicial killings since 2013, ASK said.
The findings were disclosed at a program organized by ASK at The Daily Star Centre on TUesday.
ASK member Tamanna Hoq Riti read out the report titled “National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh: Existing Obstacles and Citizens expectations.”
The organization prepared the report on information based off news reports published in national and regional daily newspapers and also on its own findings.
According to the ASK report, among the 437 extra-judicial killings, 26 were victims of enforced disappearance, and 276 were killed in anti-narcotics drives conducted by law enforcement between May and October this year.
A total of 162 people were killed in “shootouts” and “gunfights” with law enforcement agencies and in their custody in 2017. The number was 195 in 2016, 192 in 2015, 158 in 2014 and 208 in 2013.
The reason behind the sharp rise of extra judicial killings was not discussed in the report.
They also mentioned that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) did not receive any response from Home Ministry over 300 inquiries it made into incidents of rights violations between 2012 and 2017.
‘Frail role of NHRC’
Although NHRC was much more vocal during 2018 than previous years, the findings in the report said as a state agency the commission should have played a stronger role to make government understand about the deteriorating human rights situation. But the commission has failed to play its role effectively.
The report said they were vocal during quota reforming movement and safe road movement but could not remain so over its status and measures taken regarding the killings.
It also did not undertake any investigation on the attack on students during the movements, the report said.
It said although news media and human rights activists were vocal during incidents such as Tonu murder, Marma girl-child rape allegations, Romel Chakma murder, and Cox’s Bazar counselor Ekramul killing among others, the NHRC did not contribute to effective advancement in the cases.
Human rights activists from 16 districts participated in the program and urged the commission to play more active role in establishing human rights in the country. They also urged to take effective measure so that security for the human rights activists could be ensured even during election period.
ASK Executive Director Sheepa Hafiza said: “NHRC is our last hope for restoring human rights in the country for all. The more effective role it plays, the more right activists could work for establishing rights for the deprived people.”
NHRC Chairman Kazi Reaul Haque said the commission has some limitations. They will get additional workforce soon, which would allow the commission to work more effectively.
“Besides, NHRC will write to the law enforcement and local authorities, especially in areas where minority groups are at risk, to ensure their security,” he added.