HRW to Bangladesh: End disappearances and secret detentions


NEW YORK, July 6 (APP): Bangladesh security forces have illegally
detained hundreds of people since 2013, including scores of opposition activists, and held them in secret detention, a prominent international human rights watchdog group said in a report released Thursday.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch called on
the Bangladesh government to immediately stop this widespread
practice of enforced disappearances, order prompt, impartial, and independent investigations into these allegations, provide answers to families, and prosecute security forces responsible for such egregious rights violations.
The 82-page report, “We Don’t Have Him: Secret
Detentions and Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh,” found that
at least 90 people were victims of enforced disappearance in 2016 alone. While most were produced in court after weeks or months of
secret detention, Human Rights Watch said it documented 21
cases of detainees who were later killed, and nine others
whose whereabouts remain unknown.
The 90 cases include three sons of prominent opposition
politicians who were picked up over several weeks in August 2016;
one was released after six months of secret detention, while the
other two remain disappeared. In the first five months of
2017, some 48 disappearances were reported. There are allegations of
severe torture and ill-treatment while in secret custody, HRW said.
“The disappearances are well-documented and reported, yet
the government persists in this abhorrent practice with no regard
for the rule of law,” Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director said. “Bangladesh security forces appear to have a free hand in detaining people, deciding on their guilt or innocence, and determining their punishment, including whether they have the right to be alive.”
Bangladesh law enforcement authorities have illegally
detained hundreds of people since 2013, including scores of opposition activists, and held them in secret detention.
The report also documents the continuing disappearance of
19 opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) activists. The 19
men were picked up by law enforcement authorities in eight separate incidents over a two-week period in or around Dhaka in the weeks before the January 2014 elections.
Human Rights Watch said it interviewed more than 100
people, including family members and witnesses, to document these cases. Details of police complaints and other legal documents are included in the report. The Bangladesh authorities failed to respond to
letters seeking their views on these cases.
Witnesses and family members told Human Rights Watch that most
of the abuses were carried out by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) or the Detective Branch of the police (DB), both of which have long-recorded histories of abuse. In the case of the 19 opposition party members, witnesses said that eight were taken by RAB, six by DB, and the rest by unknown security forces.
Ruhul Amin Chowdhury, who saw RAB take away his son, Adnan
Chowdhury, on December 5, 2013, was quoted as saying he had trusted
RAB to release his son the next day. They said, “We
are taking him. We will bring him back,” he said.
“The Bangladesh government is making a habit of complete
disregard for human rights, human life, and the rule of law,”
Adams said. “The government doesn’t even bother denying
these abuses, instead remaining silent and relying on silence from the international community in return. This silence needs to end,” he added.