June 5, 2018
The Commonwealth Human Right Initiative (CHRI) condemns the recent deaths of scores of suspected drug dealers in shootouts with security forces in Bangladesh.
Media and civil society reports indicate that between 15-31 May 2018,, about 120 suspected drug dealers were killed in an ongoing government crackdown. CHRI reminds the government and security forces that they are accountable for the deaths caused.
CHRI echoes the strong condemnation of the killings expressed by the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh and civil society organisations. It is of serious concern that this spate of killings, being described by many as “extrajudicial”, is seen by the government as the needed response in a “war” against drug crime without mention of the accountability for causing death.
Sanjoy Hazarika, CHRI’s International Director, called upon the Government of Bangladesh “to ensure that each killing is properly investigated in a time-bound manner, and all those responsible for ordering and carrying out the killings are brought to book immediately.”
The CHRI statement added that “being tough on crime cannot be a license for abuse of power or excess use of force.” CHRI recognizes the need to address drug trafficking but the police and political leadership must insist that all policing functions within the law. “Without this, the rule of law itself is threatened”.
Reportedly, thousands of suspected drug dealers have been arrested. The Bangladesh Police must guarantee that all the constitutional rights and legal safeguards of all arrested persons are upheld at every stage, in strict compliance with the 2003 High Court guidelines on arrest and detention (upheld by the Supreme Court).
It is solely for the courts to decide whether they are innocent or guilty, the statement said.
For more information, please contact:
Coordinator, Police Reforms Programme Email: firstname.lastname@example.org