HR Commission to probe incidents of disappearance
Against the backdrop of disappearance of a number of people in recent times, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman on Tuesday said that its personnel, now undergoing training, would soon start probe into such incidents. He was speaking at a presentation on the findings of a survey, titled "Perceptions, Attitudes and Understanding on Human Rights in Bangladesh" at a city hotel.
The survey commissioned by the NHRC disclosed that 50 percent of the country's people are not aware of the words, "human rights", in terms of its expression.
"A large number of those who have heard the words are not able to explain it," observed Greg Moran, a rights expert, while presenting the survey results.
The study was carried out by the Bangladesh Legal Aid Support (BLAST), supported by the UNDP under "Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission Capacity Building Project" on the basis of surveys on 3632 household, 23 key informant interviews, and 24 focus group discussions in 38 districts.
The presentation ceremony was addressed among others by law minister Barrister Shafiq Ahmed, UNDP country director Stefan Priesner and NHRC chairman professor Dr Mizanur Rahman.
Referring to the findings of the survey Mizanur Rahman deplored such a level as ‘disturbing.’ He questioned how it was possible when hundreds of NGOs had been working in Bangladesh to raise mass awareness about the issue for the last 40 years.
Referring to rights situation in Bangladesh, the NHRC chairman further said that tolerance in the activities of the elite force, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), has become noticeable following the formation of the NHRC.
“RAB does not do anything all on a sudden nowadays. They think before doing anything now. However, he said, it does not mean violations are not taking place and we are satisfied.”
The incidents of disappearance of people have been on the rise nowadays and it is alleged in many cases that the law enforcers, especially the plainclothesmen, are behind such disappearance of the people.
Law Minister Shafique Ahmed told the meeting that the extent of extra-judicial killings has declined significantly in the country. The government never supports such killings, the minister noted.
“We believe in the rule of law. None is above law. One should be punished as per law,” the law minister said.
His comments followed presentation of the survey that noted that most people surveyed consider the use of lethal force by the law enforcing agencies unacceptable.
“But there are situations, when law enforcement agencies must be allowed to use lethal force, which is fairly well understood by the respondents as well,” Greg Moran pointed out while presenting the survey findings.
The study did not find sharp increase in extrajudicial killings. But noted the level is unacceptable, pointing out that the major problem is impunity. There are no recorded cases of police or RAB officials having been prosecuted for their actions, the survey observed.
The study recommended increasing the understanding of the police or RAB “can or cannot use lethal force”. They also should understand the changes to the law, it noted, while recommending further on stripping off the ‘impunity’ the police officers and RAB members enjoying.
UNDP country director Stephen Preisler said that the vision 2021 of the government would not be effective until the human rights condition is developed. Reform is needed in the judiciary system of the country to provide legal assistance to the general public, he said.