Members of the Bangladesh Police have sought amendment of the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013.
Police officials made the demand to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the inauguration of Bangladesh Police Week 2018 in Dhaka on Monday.
They also sought the implementation of a revised healthcare system for policemen, restructuring of the rationing system, providing motorcycles to all field-level officials and bringing outsourcing staff appointments under the revenue sector.
The prime minister took note of the demands, pressed by policemen ranked from constable to additional superintendent of police, and gave her assurance that necessary steps will be taken to implement them.
Present at the Kalyan Sobha [Welfare Meeting] held at the Rajarbagh Policed Line Auditorium, a number of police officials told the correspondent: “Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Banani Police Station Officer in Charge (OC) Farman Ali demanded that the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013 be amended at the programme.”
Addressing the prime minister, Farman Ali said: “Even if someone dies in custody from psychological stress, the police are being blamed for it. It is difficult to get a confession from a criminal unless the person is pressured psychologically.
“As cases filed under this act are non bailable, a police official will not be able get bail if accused in a false case.”
Replying to Farman Ali, the prime minister said: “I cannot comment on the law itself, but we will consider the possibility of amending the act.”
Meanwhile, discussing the recruitment of doctors through the Public Service Commission (PSC), DMP Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Nadia Farzana said: “Police hospitals across the country, including the Rajarbagh Central Police Hospital and the Bangladesh Police Academy Hospital in Sardah, are lacking adequate healthcare facilities.
“These hospitals face shortages of beds and of specialist doctors. Around 25% to 70% positions in the police hospitals remain vacant most of the time.”
The prime minister replied: “This is a good proposal. The army has a medical core, so Bangladesh Police can also form a medical unit.”
On the other hand, Dhaka District Additional Superintendent of Police Golam Azad Khan demanded that instead of hiring staff through outsourcing, manpower should be hired permanently.
He added: “Around 2,673 personnel, including chefs, cleaners and electricians, are hired on a contractual agreement of two years through outsourcing. This practice poses security risks to a disciplined force such as the Bangladesh Police. ”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assured him that the matter will be discussed with the Finance Ministry.
Demanding ration facilities for family members of any police official killed on the line of duty, DMP Constable Nasrin Afroza said: “The death of the sole bread-earner leaves a family helpless. The ration facilities will at least ensure food on the table for family members of deceased police officials.”
The prime minister assured that she will consider the possibility of implementing 100% rationing facilities.
Sub Inspector Golam Mostafa, attending the programme form Sherpur district, requested that filed level police officials be given loan facilities of up to Tk2 lakh for buying motorbikes and implement a fuel rationing system, for ease of transportation.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina responded negatively to the demand of fuel rationing, but directed officials concerned to facilitate low interest loans for the policemen for buying motorbikes.
Later, Sheikh Hasina added that the government is actively considering a number of facilities for the police force, such as providing residential facilities, 100% ration, improved healthcare, better training, improved transportation facilities and better equipment.
She also categorically pointed out her government’s initiatives to modernize the police force, including the appointment of women sergeants and building the Police Staff College in Dhaka.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Home Secretary Kamal Uddin, Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Haque were present at the programme among others.
ASK says revising Custodial Death Act will cripple human rights
Human rights organization Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) reacted to Bangladesh Police's amendment request on Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013 saying it will cast a shadow on Bangladesh’s human right situation.
At the inauguration of Police Week 2018 on January 8, police officials said current Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013 is an obstruction for police’s normal activities. The police have been urging for a revision of this law, which was elected by majority vote in parliament in 2013 after it has been demanded by humanitarian organizations for a long time.
Parliament has signed this law to acknowledge the United Nations conventions against all derogatory and inhuman behaviour under custody.
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASAK) in its press release said every human being has the right to get justice for any cruel or illegal behaviour in custody. The organization said this law was enacted by parliament to meet a longstanding demand of civil society of the country and any change of this law will create serious aspersion on Bangladesh’s stance on human rights.
ASK also expressed concern recalling recent news of death and torture in police custody while this law is still effective.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune