Bangladesh: Government must act now to stop police unlawful killings

Report
August 23, 2011

Bangladesh: Government must act now to stop police unlawful killings


In Rajshahi, Khulna and Dhaka districts, armed criminal groups or powerful mercenary gangs colluded with local politicians to run smuggling rings or extort money from local people. Within months of its creation, RAB’s operations were characterized by a pattern of killings portrayed by the authorities as ‘deaths in crossfire’, many of which had the hallmarks of extrajudicial executions.

They usually occurred in deserted locations after a suspect’s arrest. In some cases, there were witnesses to the arrests, but RAB authorities maintained that victims had been killed by ‘crossfire’, or in ‘shoot-outs’ or ‘gunfights’.

Bangladesh’s two main political parties – the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Awami League – have shown no commitment to limiting the powers of RAB.

In the first couple of months of coming to office, the Prime Minister spoke of a “zero tolerance” policy toward extrajudicial executions. Other government authorities repeated her pledge. These hopes were dashed in late 2009 when the authorities, including the Home Minister, began to claim that there were no extrajudicial executions in the country.