Abolish RAB, halt BDR mutiny trial: HRW
Wed, Jul 4th, 2012 3:36 pm BdST
Dhaka, Jul 4 (bdnews24.com) – The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has proposed to form a new non-military force by abolishing Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and halt trial of mutineers of then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) on Wednesday.
The New York-based human rights body called on government to establish 'an independent investigative and prosecutorial task force with sufficient expertise, authority, and resources to rigorously investigate and prosecute allegations of human rights abuses after the [BDR] mutiny'.
HRW made the proposals in a report on alleged violation of human rights by RAB and torture on the BDR personnel convicted in mutiny cases.
Asia Director of HRW Brad Adams demanded that authorities form a non-military unit or new force within the police by disbanding the anticrime elite force RAB.
He was speaking at a function at Brac Inn Centre in Dhaka to mark the publishing of the report.
Adams said the new force would consider human rights as its core value to fight against crime and terrorism.
He suggested the government should stop the BDR mutiny trial immediately and go back to the basic norms of fair trial to ensure justice over the mutiny and massacre in 2009.
HRW has alleged that the suspects in the 2009 BDR mutiny have been subjected to widespread abuse, torture, and deaths in custody. "The mass trials of nearly 6,000 suspects raise serious fair trial concerns."
Adams has called the process of trying the border guards in groups "unfair and flawed"
"Those responsible for the horrific violence that left 74 dead should be brought to justice, but not with torture and unfair trials," said Adams.
But he urged Bangladesh authorities to stop the current trial and close all the "unofficial places of detention" for interrogation of the guards "tomorrow".
"The government must close all unofficial and secret places of detention. Everybody knows these places are there, the goverment has the mandate to do (close) this. It has an election pledge to stop torture (in custody)."
Adams categorically mentioned that these places of detention were run by RAB, DGFI and NSI, saying if these places were closed serious violation of human rights involving the border guards facing mutiny charges would stop substantially.
The 57-page report titled "'The Fear Never Leaves Me': Torture, Custodial Deaths, and Unfair Trials After the 2009 Mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles," provides a detailed account of the mutiny and documents 'serious abuses' in the aftermath.
"The notorious Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has allegedly been involved in many of the abuses," the report said.
Adams said, "The government's initial response to the mutiny was proportionate and saved lives by refusing army demands to use overwhelming force in a heavily populated area. But since then it has essentially given a green light to the security forces to exact revenge through physical abuse and mass trials."
HRW said they interviewed over 60 people, including family members of the victims, prosecutors, defence lawyers, and journalists to prepare the report.
The report said it found at least 47 border guards have died in custody because of torture like beatings and giving electric shocks in custody.
Abolish RAB, halt BDR mutiny trial: HRW | Bangladesh | bdnews24.com