Dhaka, Aug 11 (BAN/CD): The United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) has expressed concern over Bangladesh government’s failure to disclose information about allegations of torture against law enforcers, their misconduct, absence of their accountability as well as incidents of unacknowledged detention and enforced disappearance.
Reviewing the situation in Bangladesh for the first time since it became a signatory to the UNCAT charter, the UNCAT committee expressed concern over many other issues.
In its final observations published in Geneva of Switzerland yesterday, the committee came up with 77 recommendations for the government. Those include formation of an independent commission to conduct an enquiry into the allegations.
The committee also regretted a delay of 20 years by Bangladesh in placing its first report to it since the country became the signatory to the charter.
The review committee of UNCAT, however, termed constructive the government’s verbal and written replies to different questions raised at its meeting in Geneva on July 30 and 31.
The committee urged the government to inform it about the progress on these issues by August 9 next year, giving priority on three things.
The first is ensuring that magistrates and law enforcement authorities properly follow High Court directives on prevention of custodial torture and death.
The second one is making sure that independent bodies, private organisations or NOG representatives can inspect the places of detention as well as ensuring a system for investigating allegations from detained persons.
The third is protecting the NGOs which are assisting the UNCAT to stop harassment.
At the same time, the UNCAT appreciated Bangladesh for talking initiatives for reforming and amending eight laws, including the Custodial Torture and Death (Prevention) Act, 2013 and the Prevention of Cruelty against Women and Children Act 2000.
The UNCAT committee then expressed disappointment at the government not providing it with information about whether investigation had been conducted into the killings of Ekramul Haque of Cox’s Bazar and Sheikh Mokhlesur Rahman and similar allegations.
The committee said there were believable allegations of torture, arbitrary arrest, unacknowledged detention, forced disappearance and extrajudicial killings in the custody of Rapid Action Battalion.
The UNCAT urged the government to scrap the Section 13 of the Armed Police Battalion Act saying that the section has given impunity to the law enforcers from the allegation of torture and extrajudicial killing.
The committee also expressed concern over incidents where human rights activists, lawyers and journalists were harassed and victimised for raising voice against torture and enforced disappearance.