Many individuals have clearly stated that they were abused in jail -- they cannot all be lying
Technically, Bangladesh has a zero tolerance policy against torture or any form of custodial abuse, which may or may not lead to death in custody. Our law minster alarmed as much in front of the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland nearly two years ago.
But as much as we would like this to be true, reports indicate that torture does indeed frequently take place in custody, sometimes with fatal consequences. Many individuals have clearly stated that they were abused in jail -- they cannot all be lying. We have a legal and moral responsibility, then, to investigate this matter, and take action against any violation of the law on part of our law enforcement officers.
Again and again, this dark issue comes to the fore in Bangladesh. Most recently, with the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed in custody -- a man in his early 50s with no prior health complications -- demands have been raised for a thorough investigation. Cartoonist Kishore, also in custody, claims that he was tortured. Let us put aside for a minute the question of innocence or guilt, which is to be determined by the courts. Every individual has rights, and this includes the right to be free from torture or abuse at the hands of authorities. When a law enforcement officer violates the rights of a prisoner of the books, it is an abuse of power, plain and simple, and cannot be allowed under any circumstances.
All the more disheartening is how, over time, the public has been made to develop a sort of apathy towards this practice, thus normalizing horrific and illegal acts which are anything but normal. If Bangladesh wishes to be respected among other nations as an enlightened, developed nation that respects human rights and the rule of law, it is high time for the government to step up and end custodial torture.