The number of mysterious disappearances and secret killings saw an alarming rise in 2011 compared to the previous years, shows a report of rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).

Fifty-one people vanished last year, with 15 bodies being recovered later, according to the report published yesterday.

Allegations are that members of law enforcement agencies, particularly those of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), were involved in those incidents, ASK Executive Director Sultana Kamal said sharing the findings of the report at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.

“People simply disappeared and, in some cases, their decomposed bodies with their hands and legs tied were found floating in the river or in some water bodies or beside the roads later,” she said, expressing concern.

According to Odhikar, another rights group, 18 people disappeared in 2010, 14 of them being allegedly picked up by Rab, two by police and two by the detectives.

Though relatives of such victims often blamed law enforcement agencies, the agencies neither proved their innocence nor arrested anyone in connection with those disappearances and the subsequent killings, added Sultana, also a former caretaker government adviser.

“Instead of ensuring people’s security, the police and the Rab remain under the control of some influential quarters,” she noted, without specifying who those influential quarters were.

And even as the number of such incidents continues to mount, the government is taking no effective measures to stop those. Instead, she added, top government officials and law enforcers were issuing contradictory statements.

The ruling Awami League in its 2008 electoral manifesto pledged to stop extrajudicial killings and try those involved in such killings, said ASK Director (investigation and information) Nur Khan.

But during the tenure of the current government, he added, there have been allegations of extrajudicial killing against Rab.

Between January and December last year, 92 people were killed in “crossfire” with law enforcers, mostly Rab members, while 116 died in the custody of various law enforcement agencies, said the ASK report titled “Bangladesh Human Rights Situation Review-2011”.

During the same period, 134 people were killed in mob beating while 206 journalists were repressed in the hands of the law enforcers and the ruling party men. These incidents demonstrate gross violation of law and worsening law and order, the report says.

Thirty-three women committed suicide failing to stand sexual harassment by stalkers and 23 others were killed by the perpetrators for protesting such harassment, while 1,346 women fell victim to rape and acid attacks.

The ASK director said the government imposed section 144 for 133 times mainly to thwart opposition programmes last year.

The government also failed to check border killing as 39 Bangladeshi were killed by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in 2011 alone, he said, adding that 30 more Bangladeshi were abducted and 64 injured in the border region during the same period.

The rights body in its report also criticised the trial process of the BDR mutineers.

It said Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) cannot function effectively to uphold human rights for lack of staff. Established on June 22, 2010, with a chairman and six commissioners, the NHRC has 28 staff against its need for 68.

Source: The Daily Star (http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=216667) – 2/1/2012

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