JUSTICE dispensation without any judicial accountability as evident in the death of crime suspects in the hands of law enforcement agencies which law enforcers prefer to call ‘gunfight’ or ‘gangland infighting’ but is largely believed to be a case of extrajudicial killing because of the narrative that often goes with the incident continues to undermine a couple of basic tenets of the law — the accused are innocent until they are proven guilty, which is for the court of law to decide, and the accused, suspects, or even hardened criminals, should get a fair chance to stand trial. All such incidents have along the way only raised rights abuse furore at home and abroad. At least 204 people, as the a report of rights group Ain O Salish Kendra on Monday said, have either been killed extrajudicially or died in the custody of law enforcement agencies in the first half of the year. The reported extrajudicial killings involved almost all forces — the Rapid Action Battalion, the police, the Detective Branch, joint forces, Coast Guard and Border Guard Bangladesh, as the rights group report, prepared based on news published in national daily newspapers, said.
And the latest, but not one among them, is the death of Sabbir Ahmed — the prime suspect in the murder of Rifat Sharif who was hacked to death by four people near the Barguna Government College on June 26. The four assailants, including Sabbir, dragged Rifat out of the college, when he went there to drop his wife, and hacked him to death with sharp weapons in daylight. People who were around videoed the attack but did not come forward to rescue the couple, perhaps in a fearful situation that a declining political culture has caused. The prime suspect Sabbir, the ringleader of a gang named ‘007’ and wanted by the police in eight cases involving extortion, mugging and murder, came to be killed in a ‘gunfight’ with the police at Purba Burirchar in Barguna district headquarters early Tuesday. The police said that they had gone to the area early in the day on information that a few of the suspects had been staying there and a ‘gunfight’ ensued, which left Sabbir dead after being hit with bullets. The police said that their best efforts to capture him alive had failed. While such incidents trample the rule of law and weaken the judicial process, often adding to the risk of lawlessness in society, in most of the cases, such incidents break the link in the crime chain, holding law enforcers from reaching people at play behind-the-scenes and, thus, saving the politically and financially powerful quarters, if there are any, that harbour such criminals. Even in the case at hand, politically powerful quarters are reported to have been at play. This is why such extrajudicial intervention only harms the furtherance of the rule of law and kills the justice dispensation.
Law enforcers must effectively deter crimes of any kind and arrest anyone standing in conflict with the law but there is no scope for the law enforcers to assume the role of the judge, jury and executioner when they keep law. The sooner the government makes the law enforcement agencies understand this, the better it is for the rule of law, justice dispensation and society.
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