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HRW urges BD govt to stop ‘mass arbitrary arrests’
Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based global rights body, called upon the Bangladeshi authorities to immediately stop arbitrarily arresting people without proper evidence of a crime.
The Bangladesh authorities should investigate attacks on secular writers, gay rights activists, and religious minorities, and identify and prosecute the perpetrators, but it should stop arbitrary arrests, said the rights body in a statement, following the arrest of several thousand people in recent days.
Between June 10 and 16, 2016, security forces have reportedly arrested over 11,000 in connection with a spate of murders of bloggers with secular or atheist leanings, non-Muslims, members of the LGBT community, and other progressive or liberal thinkers, it said.
Those detained should either be charged on the basis of credible evidence of criminal activities and brought immediately before a judge, or be immediately released, said the statement.
“After a slow and complacent response to these horrific attacks, Bangladesh’s security forces are falling back on old habits and rounding up the ‘usual suspects’ instead of doing the hard work of carrying out proper investigations,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW.
“The government has an obligation to put an end to these murders and hold the perpetrators to account, but it must do so through proper procedures set out in its own criminal code as well as in international law.”
The mass arrest of thousands upon thousands within the course of a few days is a familiar scene in Bangladesh, but does little to inspire confidence that these ghastly killings will stop.
Media reports claim that some of those detained are being made to pay bribes to secure their release, a familiar pattern in Bangladesh. For instance, in one case reported to Human Rights Watch in the present roundup, police detained a youth, beat him up in custody, and then demanded a 100,000 taka (US$1,270) bribe, threatening otherwise to list him as a suspected fundamentalist, said the statement.
Human Rights Watch noted that the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised a climate of zero tolerance for torture and impunity.
“The mass arrest of thousands upon thousands within the course of a few days is a familiar scene in Bangladesh, but does little to inspire confidence either that these ghastly killings will stop or that due process will be followed,” Adams said. “
“The authorities need to conduct focused investigations in order to find those responsible for planning and carrying out the wave of killings that has so outraged the world,” he added.