UN concerned over state torture

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:46, Aug 10,2019


The United Nations Committee Against Torture in a statement on Friday expressed deep concern over the consistent reports of enforced disappearance, torture, arbitrary arrests and unacknowledged detention in Bangladesh.

In the statement issued from Geneva in Switzerland, the committee published its findings on the rights status of Bangladesh days after the hearing on the country during July 30–31.

It recommended that the Bangladesh government should invite without delay independent special rapporteurs to visit the country in this regard.

The findings, officially termed as concluding observations, contained positive aspects of the states in implementing the Convention against Torture and Other  Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, highlight main issues of concern and make recommendations.

The statement said that the committee expressed concern over the consistent reports alleging widespread and routine torture and ill treatment by law-enforcement officials for the purpose of obtaining confessions or to solicit bribes, lack of publicly available information on these cases and failure to ensure accountability for law enforcement agencies, particularly the Rapid Action Battalion. 

It also reads that concern has been expressed about the pressure put on the judiciary that constrains fundamental legal safeguards.

‘The limited use of the mandate of the National Human Rights Commission to investigate torture was noted as an issue,’ it stated.

The committee recommended inviting without delay independent special rapporteurs to visit Bangladesh, notably the Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on Human Rights Defenders, and the Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention and on Disappearances. 

The committee also urged the Bangladesh government to publicly acknowledge that torture would not be tolerated under any circumstances and to ensure that its authorities, preferably independent bodies, carry out prompt, impartial, effective criminal investigations into all complaints of torture, ill treatment, unacknowledged detention, disappearances, and deaths in custody. 

The UN body sought an independent investigation into the allegations against the RAB.

Bangladesh was also advised to ratify the Optional Protocol under CAT, establishing a national preventive mechanism.

The CAT expressed concern over inadequate prison conditions, violence against women and ethnic and religious minorities, and corporal punishment in law and against children in the country. 

The committee was also concerned about trafficking, including in Rohingyas. 

It noted that civil society activists and human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists faced harassment and violence for dealing with torture cases and other serious human rights violations.

The Bangladesh government was advised to amend legislation such as the Criminal Procedure Code and notably to reform the law on arrest without warrant and limit detention on remand, as well as to amend the Prisons Act to remove corporal punishments.

The CAT also recommended that the Bangladesh authorities should amend the legislations that restrict civic space, such as the Digital Security Act, the ICT Act and the Foreign Donations Act.

The committee also recommended establishment of an independent vetting procedure for Bangladesh under the guidance of the UN for all proposed peacekeepers.

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