THE opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has come up with a rightful demand, seeking that the government should end extrajudicial killing as the party’s secretary general on Thursday blamed the government for letting loose a reign of terror by way of extrajudicial killing. Statistics of rights group Odhikar and Ain O Salish say more than 2,525 people have been killed extrajudicially by the law enforcers from January 2009 to till date, when the Awami League has presided over the government, and demanded fair trial of all such killings. But what the Bangladesh Nationalist Party forgets that it should first offer apologies for the extrajudicial killing that took place when the party presided over the government. Unless it so does, it may seek an end to extrajudicial killing, but its seeking to end extrajudicial killing would hardly have any moral standing.
When the BNP secretary general sought an end to extrajudicial killing, he conveniently remained silent about such incidents — and did not allow questions — during the party’s tenure in the government. In one of the most controversial moves regarding human rights, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government ordered a countrywide joint forces’ operation, Operation Clean Heart, from October 16, 2002 to January 9, 2003. The death of more than 55 people in custody or just after being released from custody in a seriously ill condition created a furore at home and abroad. In the absence of parliament session, the government on January 9, 2003, just before the operation ended, had promulgated an indemnity ordinance, which was signed into a law, the Joint Drive Indemnity Act 2003, on February 24 that year. The court, however, on September 13, 2016 scrapped the 2003 law, allowing the victims to seek legal redress. The victims may move court when the current intimidating situation ends.
The duty of the law enforcement agencies is to deter crimes and prosecute suspects and it is for the court of law to hold the trial and mete out punishment. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party should speak against extrajudicial killing and push for an end to such unlawful approach. But it must, first, offer apologies for all the extrajudicial killings that took place during its tenure in government — and for its allowing law enforcers to also be the judge, jury and executioner — for its protests to have an effective moral standing.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial