28 March 2007
· The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions issued the following statement today:
Bangladesh: The Government Must Stop the Police from Murdering Suspects
"The Government of Bangladesh must stop the Rapid Action Battalion and other elite security forces from using murder as a policing technique,” says Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
A report released by Alston yesterday devotes roughly ten pages to a series of allegations he has received regarding Bangladesh, none of which were effectively addressed by the Government. He presented his findings to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday.
His report states that, “The pattern of incidents would suggest that what the police and special forces report as ‘crossfire’ deaths are in fact staged extrajudicial executions.”
On 22 August 2006, Alston presented the Government with 27 cases of violent death reported by the police and special forces as having occurred in “crossfire” with criminals. In one case that Alston raised with the Government, the police had reported that Ebu Hossain had been killed in a shootout between police and Mr. Hossain’s cohorts. A special team of police had arrested Mr. Hossain about one day earlier in Dhaka. After a confession, police took him to recover hidden arms. While retrieving the arms accomplices of Mr. Hossain opened fire on police, and Mr. Hossain was killed in the crossfire while trying to flee. Most of the deaths had been reported by the police as having occurred in circumstances nearly identical to these. Many of the deaths have involved the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), although the regular police and its auxiliary Cheetah and Cobra units are implicated as well.
In his communication of 22 August 2006, Alston requested that the Government provide detailed information on its independent investigations into the 27 cases presented. Alston emphasized that he would report on these cases to the United Nations, but the government responded only that “the contents of the communication have been duly noted” and that they would be “carefully considered”. On 30 October 2006, Alston raised two further cases of persons who had reportedly been killed in “crossfire” by the RAB. The government responded only that his letter had been “duly noted”.
According to Alston, “the Government’s apparent indifference to these grave allegations is deeply disturbing. The involvement of the police in extrajudicial executions is of great concern to the international community, and the reputation of Bangladesh is on the line.”
Alston emphasizes that the current state of emergency does not affect Bangladesh’s legal obligation to immediately end extrajudicial executions by the police. Bangladesh became a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 6 September 2000. When it joined that human rights treaty, Bangladesh made a legally binding commitment to only adopt measures that are consistent with its provisions. The Covenant permits some exceptions during states of emergency, but it includes a specific provision that bars any measures cutting back on the legal safeguards surrounding the right to life.
Philip Alston was appointed as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 13 July 2004. In 2006, the Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the Human Rights Council, and Alston now reports to the Council.
For further information on the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, see: http://www.ohchr.org/english/issues/executions/ http://www.extrajudicialexecutions.org/
The report that Alston presented to the Human Rights Council on March 27 is UN Doc. No. A/HRC/4/20, and communications with governments are included in A/HRC/4/20/Add.1.