Human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra’s recently reported custodial death statistics for this year are highly concerning.
In the past nine months, ASK reports that at least 150 people were killed in so-called cross-fires or gunfights at the hands of law enforcement agencies.
Some of these killings are accounted for -- this figure includes the 19 militants killed in the successful raids following the Gulshan attack.
Questions remain, however, about the 83 people who died in police custody and the 34 people who died in RAB custody in the past year, either before or after arrest, as well as deaths that took place under the watch of DB police, SWAT, joint forces, BGB police, and Ansar/rail police.
Why has no punitive action been taken against law enforcement personnel who were involved in killings that were not justified? As we have seen in past years, such extra-judicial killings get repeatedly glossed over, despite what the agencies may claim.
Personnel within law enforcement found guilty of criminal action are usually let off with a slap on the wrist, like a temporary suspension or demotion. This does not get to the bottom of the problem.
We need to do a better job of holding law enforcement agencies accountable for any human rights violations committed in the name of upholding the law.
This includes demanding punitive action for those responsible for unexplained deaths in custody.
Nobody should be above the law.
The authorities have a basic duty to uphold the rights of all citizens, regardless of the crime with which they are charged. Let us not sweep due process under the rug.