Time to end enforced disappearances

More than 200 people, mostly political activists, falling victim to enforced disappearances in the past seven years, as New Age reported on Saturday, is disconcerting mainly because such disappearances contradict wholly with the rule of law and families of almost all such disappearance victims, many of whom were later found dead, have been deprived of justice. Many such disappearances also result in extrajudicial killings, or to put it in a reverse order, almost all extrajudicial killings somehow resulted from enforced such involuntary disappearances. While the government keeps trying to wash its hands of the matter, such incidents keep taking place, in a similar fashion — people going missing, families and neighbours claiming that people in uniforms or plain clothes, in white vans, have picked them up, law enforcement personnel denying their involvement and refusing to record cases, some later being found dead with marks of injury and few found alive, shaken and distraught. The government routinely passes the blames for such incidents, often termed ‘abduction,’ on to unknown ‘miscreants.’
The government also claims that it does not believe in the practice of enforced disappearance, which is typical of military dictatorship and so-called counter-insurgency operations in restive regions effected through armies or paramilitary forces, but it is unwilling to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and remains silent or stops giving a direct answer when it is asked about the delay and unwillingness in ratifying the convention. The New Age report said that at least 70 leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League’s main rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its alliance partner Jamaat-e-Islami fell victim to enforced disappearance while the number of such victims from the Awami League is at least 37 in January 2007–August 2014, according to a report of rights group Ain o Salish Kendra. This could be indicative of a tacit government approval of, if not complicity in, enforced disappearance in the present-day politics of conflicts.
The ruling Awami League, which assumed office in January for the second consecutive term, in its election manifesto for the 2008 general elections said that it would establish the rule of law and end extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearances. But it has not done so even in its second term, allowing the government, its officials and agents, individuals and private entities to be not accountable under the law. Socially conscious people should rise up against this and force the government to end enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings.


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