THE call of the victims and families of the victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing at a human chain in Dhaka for the prime minister to look into their plight and take steps to return the people who went missing, and had been traceless thereafter, is a point to ponder. The victims and families of the victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, banded under the platform of Mayer Dak, or mother’s call, put forth the call for the prime minister, saying that the prime minister by having resolved to give shelter to the Rohingyas persecuted at their native place of Rakhine State by Myanmar’s security forces has done a great service, and justly so, to humanity and she should also look into the issues of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing that have for long jeopardised humanity in her own country. People joining the human chain also put out a call for a government intervention in matters of the ‘return’ of the people who went missing to the families before Eid-ul-Fitr so that they can celebrate the occasion together. Mayer Dak held a public hearing in the third week of April where participants recounted their ordeal.
In the public hearing in April, the victims and the families made their private sorry tales public and criticised civil society actors for not being sympathetic towards the sufferings of hundreds of people who somehow came to be affected by enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing. They all then put the spate of enforced disappearances down to impunity, coupled with political blessings, that the perpetrators enjoy. The narratives in almost all the cases being similar and the reported presence of law enforcers, in uniforms and in plain clothes, in many of them have lent credence to the popular perception of the involvement of law enforcement agencies in the incidents. The government showing unwillingness to resolve the issues only tends to consolidate the public opinion about the perpetrators. The government should resolve the mystery of enforced disappearances and tell people about it as any kind of ambiguity in these cases would ultimately consolidate the impunity for the people who are behind enforced disappearances. The government should also take steps to stop extrajudicial killings as law enforcement without any judicial accountability would harm the rule of law and hamper justice dispensation.
The failure of the state not to know what happens to people who go missing and how a large number of people are found dead or are killed, in a similar manner, could pave the way for an increase in such incidents that are harmful for the state and the citizens. The government, under the circumstances, must set about independent investigation of each of the cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing, preferably by setting up a judicial commission, to deterrently stop the practice. The government should also make a law to criminalise enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing and set up an independent tribunal to deal with such incidents.
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