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Bangladesh must end extrajudicial killings: AI

Bangladeshi authorities must put an end to extrajudicial executions [press release] by government authorities, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged on Wednesday. In a report entitled "Crimes Unseen: Extrajudicial Executions in Bangladesh" [text, PDF], AI alleges that the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) [official website], a special police force, unlawfully kills Bangladeshi civilians regularly. Furthermore, the RAB justifies the killings as accidental or insists that the victims were killed during gun fights. The AI report also contains accounts of detainee torture and use of excessive force by RAB officers. RAB has been accused of killing at least 700 people since its inception in 2004. Though RAB has claimed to be investigating the abuses, the proceedings remain secretive and not one investigation has led to a judicial prosecution. AI Bangladesh Researcher Abbas Faiz said that holding the RAB accountable will continue to be a challenge:

However the authorities choose to describe such incidents, the fact remains that they are suspected unlawful killings. It is appalling that virtually all alleged instances of illegal RAB killings have gone unchallenged or unpunished. There can be no justice if the force is the chief investigator of its own wrong-doings. Such investigations cannot be impartial. There is nothing to stop the RAB from destroying the evidence and engineering the outcome.
RAB continues to deny allegations of extrajudicial killings. AI called on the government of Bangladesh to establish an impartial commission to investigate abuses purportedly committed by RAB and make those findings public.

Extrajudicial killing has been an ongoing problem in Bangladesh. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [text, PDF; JURIST report] the new Bangladesh government [official website; JURIST news archive] in May 2009 to investigate torture, illegal detentions and extrajudicial killings allegedly conducted by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and the RAB. The news echoed similar findings [JURIST report] reported by the EU in June 2007. In April 2009, the Bangladesh government announced [JURIST report] that it was 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]. 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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