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Amnesty International on Monday said that the government allegedly killed 466 people in 2018 during drives against drug trade and abuse.
Amnesty termed the deaths ‘a wave of extrajudicial executions.’
A report of Amnesty International released on Monday said that there were allegations of enforced disappearance and fabricating evidence by the law enforcement agencies in these suspected extrajudicial executions.
Amnesty International also called on the Bangladesh authorities to carry out a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into the wave of apparent extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations committed by the police and RAB as part of its on-going anti-drugs operations.
The report titled ‘Killed in ‘Crossfire’: Allegations of Extrajudicial Executions in Bangladesh in the Guise of a War on Drugs’ claimed that it has revealed how the Bangladeshi authorities have failed to investigate deaths of people allegedly killed in ‘gunfights’.
‘The 466 suspected extrajudicial executions in 2018 alone marked a threefold increase on 2017 and the highest in a single year in decades,’ a statement issued by Amnesty International in light of the report said.
Under the study, Amnesty International documented a total of seven cases of alleged extrajudicial executions by visiting the locations of the incidents as well as interviewing 40 people including families of the victims, ‘witnesses’ whose statements were coerced by law enforcement agencies, people in the neighbourhood where the incidents happened, and human rights activists in Bangladesh, it said.
The interviews were carried out in November 2018, followed by desk research and triangulation of information thereafter, the statement said.
‘The ‘war on drugs’ has led to the death of at least one person per day,’ the statement quoted Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International deputy South Asia director, as saying.
‘Wherever there has been involvement of the Rapid Action Battalion it appears they have acted outside of the law, the victims were not arrested, let alone put on trial,’ she said.
In all the cases investigated by Amnesty, the victims were first subjected to apparent enforced disappearances, lasting anywhere from one day to a month and a half, before their dead bodies were eventually discovered, the statement said.
‘In one case, relatives of one of the victims claimed to have bribed police in exchange for the victim’s release, but to no avail,’ it said.
Bangladeshi officials have routinely claimed that the victims of apparent extrajudicial executions were caught up in a fire fight, where the suspects fired the first shot at the members of law enforcement agencies, forcing them to resort to lethal force, said the statement.
Amnesty International spoke to supposed ‘witnesses’ who said that they were involuntarily taken to the crime scene only after the killings had taken place.
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