RIGHTS group platform Human Rights Forum Bangladesh on Thursday rightly asked the government to chalk up a time-bound plan of action to implement the recent recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture to end torture by law enforcement agencies. The UN committee on August 9 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 committee statement expressed concern about the ‘routine torture and ill treatment of detainees in custody’ by law enforcers carried out with almost complete impunity. The forum called in unison for strict enforcement of the UN recommendations to prevent torture of the people detained. Such torture has touched off strong criticism and condemnation at home and abroad, especially by national and international human rights organisations, and prompted the High Court to issue a series of rules on the government. But a section of the law enforcers have appeared unperturbed and continue with this practice of torturing.
It has become a common practice that while eliciting any statement from the detained, law enforcers often resort to physical torture and violence. This kind of violence by the law enforcers often leads to fatal injuries and custodial death, although torturing the detained goes contrary to the legal system of judiciary as some of the detained might not have any involvement in any specific crime. It will not be an exaggeration to say that torture in custody by law enforcers while seeking confessional statement is tantamount to travesty of justice as extraction of confession under duress ultimately does not help in identifying criminals. Torture and death in custody are an antithesis to the rule of law, which decrees that even the vilest of the criminals reserves the right to defence in the court of law and that no one, in uniform or not, has the licence to go ahead with torture. The UN committee recommendations are, thus, what the citizens have for long wanted to be implemented. It is imperative for the government to implement the recommendations as it is under a constitutional obligation and a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture.
If the government does not take any step to work on the recommendations to prevent custodial torture immediately, justice will continue to be elusive and the image of the country will be tarnished. It is high time the government acted in complete adherence to the UN recommendations.
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