Seven international, regional and local rights groups statement on Wednesday called on Bangladesh government to recognise the magnitude of torture in Bangladesh and addressing it implementing the recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture.
The seven rights groups — Asian Legal Resource Centre or ALRC, Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances or AFAD, FIDH, International Federation for Human Rights, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development which better known as FORUM-ASIA, Odhikar, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights and World Organisation against Torture — in their joint statement said Bangladesh government informed the UN that only 17 cases were filed under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act since its enactment in 2013 and investigation in none of these cases has completed.
On August 9, the UN Committee against Torture, better known as CAT, published its concluding observations following the first-ever review of Bangladesh’s implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a treaty to which Bangladesh became a state party in 1998.
The CAT monitors the compliance by state parties to the Convention against Torture. Its 16-page document on Bangladesh expressed serious concerns about the ‘widespread and routine commission of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials’ carried out with almost complete impunity.
The document noted that victims and their families who seek to file complaints about allegations of torture also face harassment, threats, and retaliation.
It raised concerns about the numerous and credible allegations of the Rapid Action Battalion’s involvement in torture, arbitrary arrests, unacknowledged detention, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings in its custody.
It also expressed concern about other grave human rights violations, including: unacknowledged detentions; disappearances; conditions of detention; excessive use of force by members of the security forces; reprisals, harassment, and violence against human rights defenders and journalists; violence against women; and violence against indigenous, ethnic, and religious minorities and other vulnerable groups and recommended an independent inquiry into these allegations.
The seven rights groups urged the Bangladesh government to submit a follow-up report within a year, detailing the progress of combating torture and addressing other serious abuse of human rights.
‘We also take note of the statement by the Bangladesh authorities that it will protect from reprisals all civil society members who have cooperated with the committee,’ the statement read.
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