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Bangladesh government urged to investigate torture and killings

[JURIST] The new Bangladesh government [official website; JURIST news archive] should investigate torture, illegal detentions, and extrajudicial killings allegedly conducted by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) [official website] and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) [official website], according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF] released Monday. The report alleges that these Bangladesh intelligence and military agencies have tortured and executed persons held in custody. A vivid eyewitness account, among other case studies, describes the methods of torture employed. HRW criticized the government for condoning thousands of extrajudicial killings since 1971 as well as providing for constitutional immunizations [Bangladesh Constitution text] from holding government officials accountable. According to the report, illegal torture methods and lack of accountability are tantamount to grave human rights violations contrary to the UN Convention Against Torture [text] and to international legal standards. HRW recommends that the DGIF and the RAB be disbanded and that the country's legal provisions protecting government officials from prosecution be amended.

In April, the Bangladesh government announced [JURIST report] that it is working with the UN to organize war crimes [JURIST news archive] prosecutions for alleged violations stemming from the country's 1971 War of Independence [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] against Pakistan [JURIST news archive] and that is considering trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST news archive]. Bangladesh encountered a difficult political transition with the election of its new Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [official profile] in 2008, ending two years of military rule. After the election, Bangladeshi Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shafique Ahmed [official website] declared [JURIST report] his government's desire to restore Bangladesh's 1972 constitution [text, PDF].

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