Anti-narcotics drive: HRW for independent enquiry into ‘violent deaths’

Online Report

Human Rights Watch has urged the Bangladesh government to launch an independent investigation into allegations of extrajudicial killings in the ongoing “war on drugs.”

Stating that more than 100 “violent deaths” took place in the anti-narcotics campaign, the international human rights watchdog yesterday said the campaign “should be suspended until proper training and procedures are put in place to ensure that security forces act in conformity with Bangladesh and international legal standards.”

“While drugs are a serious problem in Bangladesh, any campaign against them should be conducted within the rule of law and avoid the use of unnecessary force,” an HRW news release reads quoting Brad Adams, the organisation’s Asia director.

“Until this spate of killings is independently investigated and proper procedures are put in place to protect the public, the campaign should be suspended,” Adams said.

Citing the example of the widespread public outrage following the alleged murder of Teknaf municipality councillor Akramul Haque, HRW urged the government to establish an independent commission to investigate allegations of extrajudicial killings.

“This is particularly important as, despite previous commitments, the government has failed to hold RAB or other security forces accountable for credible allegations of similar abuses” the HRW press release said.

“Everyone deserves a fair trial and to be safe from summary execution by state security forces,” said HRW Asia director. “The government of Bangladesh has long claimed that it has a zero-tolerance policy against abuses, yet we continue to see an ongoing pattern of wrongful killings, whether it is against alleged drug dealers, political opponents, or others” the press release quotes Adam as saying.

At least 139 alleged drug dealers have been killed in the anti-narcotics drive in the last 22 days with most of them killed in the so-called shootouts involving Rab and police.

The release also alludes to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials which states, “law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms.”

The UN Basic Principles also include that whenever the use of force is unavoidable, security forces should “exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence.”