Annual Report: Bangladesh 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Bangladesh 2011

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  • On 3 May, witnesses saw police officers arresting Abdul Alim, aged 32, in Kolabaria village, Kushtia District. The next morning, the family discovered he had been killed. A police officer claimed that Abdul Alim was killed while resisting arrest. In July, the family filed a complaint before a Kushtia court accusing several police officers of unlawfully killing Abdul Alim. Kushtia police investigated the incident and submitted a report in August - on a court order. The report reiterated the police's initial account of Abdul Alim's death. The family challenged the validity of the report before the court. A decision on this challenge remained pending.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture of detainees held by the police or other security forces reportedly led to the death of at least six individuals. Six police officers were reportedly investigated for torturing detainees but no one was brought to trial. A private member's bill criminalizing torture remained pending before parliament.

  • Mahmoodur Rahman, editor of Amar Desh newspaper, was detained on 2 June for allegedly running the paper without a valid licence. He testified before a magistrate that police officers had beaten him severely while he was in custody.
  • At least six garment workers detained in early August, one of whom was pregnant, were beaten by police officers during interrogation. Their arrest followed a wave of garment workers' street rallies calling for higher wages.

Death penalty

Five men found guilty of killing the country's founding leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1975 were executed in January. Their hasty execution - less than 24 hours after their final conviction - was unprecedented. Contrary to usual practice, the President dismissed clemency petitions by three of them before the court's final verdict. Four other men were executed in three different jails on 15 September.


In March, the government set up the International Crimes Tribunal to try "those who committed crimes, assisted criminals and took part in the genocide during the Liberation War". Between August and November, the Tribunal ordered the arrest of five leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami for war crimes. They were Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojahid, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, Abdul Quader Molla and Delwar Hossain Sayeedi. Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a BNP leader detained since mid-December, was later declared a war crimes suspect. They all had been arrested initially on unrelated charges. The International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 and its 2009 amendment, under which the trials were being held, lacked adequate fair trial safeguards. It denied, among other things, the right to challenge the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the right to the possibility of bail and the right to challenge the impartiality of the judges.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

The government's failure to ensure the security of Jumma inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts often exposed the Jumma to attacks from Bengali settlers encroaching on their land. At least two Jumma Indigenous people died on 20 February after the army, which maintained a heavy presence in the area, opened fire on hundreds of Jumma Indigenous demonstrators. They were peacefully demanding protection after Bengali settlers had set fire to at least 40 of their houses in the Baghaichhari area of the Rangamati district on the night of 19 February. There were no reports of an investigation or of anyone being prosecuted for the attacks or the killings.