Annual Report: Bangladesh 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Bangladesh 2010

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Indigenous Peoples' rights

The government began in August to disband major army camps in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) to meet one of several unimplemented agreements of the 1997 CHT peace accord. The accord, signed by the government and CHT representatives, recognized the rights of Indigenous Peoples living in the area and ended more than two decades of insurgency. The government took no action to resolve other unimplemented agreements, including a dispute over land ownership which Indigenous Peoples allege the army confiscated from them during the insurgency and gave to non-Indigenous Bangladeshis whom the government encouraged to settle there.

Extrajudicial executions

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged in February and October that the government would end extrajudicial executions. However, up to 70 people reportedly died in 'crossfire' in the first nine months of the year. Police authorities usually characterized suspected extrajudicial executions as deaths from 'crossfire' or after a 'shoot-out'.

  • Family members of Mohsin Sheikh, aged 23, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, aged 22, two Awami League student leaders, alleged that Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel shot the two men dead in Dhaka in May. The RAB claimed that the men disregarded a warning to stop at a checkpoint. It said that in the 'gunfight' that followed, the men were shot dead. An autopsy of the bodies showed that none of the bullets fired by RAB officers had gone astray, which suggested that this was a planned killing and not a 'gunfight'. Police subsequently opened criminal investigations against 10 RAB personnel, but no one was brought to justice.

Violence against women

Newspapers reported at least 21 cases where a husband had killed his wife because her family could not afford to give him dowry money. Police sources said they had received at least 3,413 complaints of beating and other abuse of women over dowry disputes between January and October. In many of the known cases, prosecution led to conviction, but the authorities failed to develop, fund and implement an action programme to actively prevent violence against women. Women's rights groups said many cases of violence against women, such as the alleged rape of sex workers in police custody, were not reported for fear of reprisal and lack of protection.

  • In October, Smrity Begum died after she was allegedly forced by her husband to swallow poison. He had demanded a motorbike from Smrity Begum's family as her dowry, which they could not afford. Police charged the husband with murder.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

The Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs announced in August that a tribunal would be set up to hear cases of people accused of human rights abuses during the 1971 independence war, but no such tribunals were set up.

Death penalty

Five men found guilty of killing then President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 had their death sentences upheld by the Supreme Court in November. At least 64 people were sentenced to death and at least three were executed.

Amnesty International visits/reports

Amnesty International delegates visited Bangladesh in April and May.

Bangladesh: Looking for justice: Mutineers on trial in Bangladesh (12 November 2009)
Bangladesh: Appeals for commutation of death sentences (20 November 2008)