Friday, December 16, 2011

Extrajudicial killings all around

THE spate of extrajudicial killing still continues. This time, 11 men in Bhola became victim of such killing on Wednesday afternoon. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Thursday, five people, suspected as pirates, along with a fisherman, got killed during a ‘gunfight’ involving the police. Moreover, five more suspected pirates, who escaped the ‘gunfight’, were later beaten to death by the mob. Suffice it to say, the killings in question necessarily point to, regardless of the oft-repeated claims of the incumbents otherwise, unabated slide in law and order on the one hand and growing public distrust of law enforcement agencies on the other.

The Awami League-Jatiya Party government assumed power in 2009 with the commitment, among others, that it would keep law and order under control and that it would stop all sorts of extrajudicial killing. 

Pertinently, it was highly critical of such kind of killing during the tenure of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government in the past. Besides, it pledged on more occasions than one in the past three years or so before the leaders of different human rights organisations, national and international, that it will show zero tolerance towards such killing. Regrettably, however, it seems to have done little to make those words a reality. Worse still, it has consistently claimed that no extrajudicial killing has taken place during its tenure so far.

Meanwhile, apparently to evade criticism about extrajudicial killing, the law enforcers, especially the Rapid Action Battalion, have allegedly changed their tactics of execution in recent months. The new tactic involves enforced disappearances of alleged criminals. According to Odhikar, a rights organisation, a total of 359 people were killed in what the top brass of the law enforcers called ‘crossfire’, ‘shootout, ‘encounter’, etc in the past three years or so, while the number of victims of mob beating stood at 148 and enforced disappearances, 22, in the past 11 months.

Either way, the incumbents need to realise that what suffers most due to all this is the rule of law, and that if it is allowed to continue, society may plunge into lawlessness, endangering even the hard-earned democracy of the country. It immediately needs to do something decisive about arresting the surge in crimes as well as putting an end to all kinds of extrajudicial killings.

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