Rights campaigners on Saturday blasted the recurence of human rights violations with impunity and demanded creation of an Independent Police Complaints Commission to probe complaints against law enforcement agencies.
They demanded identification of the issues of discriminatory law enforcement and incidents of human rights violations for redress by freeing the police from political influence.
Speaking at a discussion on ‘Rule of Law and the Role of the Law Enforcement Agencies’ they also demanded amendments to the laws made during the colonial era to ensure protection of human rights and the rule of the law.
They condemned former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque for the ‘contemptuous’ remarks he made against the Appellate Division judges using his current position as law commission chairman.
The discussion, hosted by rights group, the Committee for the Protection of Fundamental Rights, was conducted by Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua.
In his keynote paper, Dhaka University law teacher Ridwanul Hoque demanded creation of an Independent Police Commission for probing human rights violations and other excesses committed by police and other law enforcement agencies.
He also demanded building up democratic institutions and increasing the capacity of existing democratic institutions to deliver. Ridwan also demanded establishment of the rule of law to replace the rule of powerful persons.
Ridwanul said that until and unless the police were freed from political interference no visible improvement in law enforcement could be expected.
During a brief hearing the organizers invited Jasmin Nahar, to narrate the story of disappearance of her husband homeopathic doctor Sheikh Mokhlesur Rahman Jony from the custody of the Satkhira police station where he was detained since arrest on August 4, 2016.
Jasmin said that now the police were trying to depict her, her husband and his younger brother, who lives abroad, as militants.
She said that the family members had been warned that if they raise the issue of doctor Mokhles they would also face the same consequences.
She said that she and her 13-month old daughter were passing their time in extreme insecurity.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association’s executive director Syeda Rizwana Hasan said that such human rights violations were causing extreme frustration to citizens.
She said that the law enforcement agencies had forgotten that protection of life and property was their statutory responsibility.
She said that people now feared the police as they ceased to be citizens’ friends.
Quoting newspaper reports, she said, no victim of enforced disappearance could gather the courage to narrate their experience out of fears that they could disappear again.
Rizwana said that that sensational murder of seven people in the City of Narayanganj after their abduction by the Rapid Action Battalion created widespread increased fear psychosis and insecurity.
She said that discussions should focus on how to bring the police out of political inference.
Veteran freedom fighter and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury said that an Independent Police Complaint Commission could improve the human rights situation.
He said that the police could commit excesses as they got political coverage.
Zafrullah said that the prevailing situation was causing extreme frustrations to the citizens and the police alike.
He called it unfortunate for a society that has to suffer in silence the irresponsible utterances Justice Khairul Haque made using his current public office.
He said Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chouwdhury Manik also created for himself a record for making reckless, derogatory and contemptuous remarks against court verdicts.
He said that both deserve at least ‘token punishments’ for their irresponsible utterances.
Supreme Court lawyer Subrata Chowdhury said that the rule of law, human rights and the democracy had been badly weakened due to pervasive authoritarian interference even on silly issues.
He called Justice Khairul Haque’s remarks as unpardonable. He said Justice Khairul Haque’s controversial remarks were bound to open Pandora’s box about the verdicts he had given as a judge.
Dhaka University law professor Asif Nazrul said that not only citizens, but also the rule of the law, human rights and democracy were now victims of enforce disappearance.
He said that the state was on the same course.
Asif called it preposterous and contemptuous to call the unanimous 16th Amendment verdict given by seven Appellate Division judges as ‘preconceived’.
Asif said that a judge who should have been in jail for writing a verdict 16 months after retirement is now committing contempt of court as the law commission chairman.
‘Can’t the state punish him?,’ asked Asif Nazrul.
Rights activist Nur Khan Liton said demanded creation of an independent police complaints commission for probing allegations of human rights violations by the police and the other law enforcing agencies.
He said that extra-judicial killings now occurs by way of detained persons dying in road accidents or knocking them down by speeding vehicles saying that they were escaping from custody.
Besides, he said, that the victims and those detained were being called extremists or members of Jamaat and Shibir. He said that there were no ways to make the police accountable and these incidents recur as they face no investigations.
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