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People`s police can`t demand right to torture

By Editorial Desk
26th-Jan-2017       
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Police demand for the repeal of the law that prohibits both mental and physical torture in custody by law enforcement agencies has come both as a surprise and also utter shock to the nation.

It is quite dismaying that police are unhappy for restraining them from torturing.  To get the law -- 'Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act -2013 repealed, police authorities have therefore demanded intervention of the Prime Minister on Monday at their annual parade meeting.

But it appears she has rightly avoided the plea saying she did not know whether or not it would be right to repeal the law passed by the Parliament. Police department earlier in 2015, had sent a proposal to the Home Ministry for major changes to the law and wanted safeguards from prosecution for custodial death and torture by law enforcers.

They wanted exclusion of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Special Branch (SB) and Detective Branch (DB) of police from the purview of the anti-torture law; which not only prohibits torture but also authorizes a person to sue police for misuse of power.

We wonder whether or not our highly trained police officers know and understand the Constitution. Not only special law exists to remind the law enforcing agencies more directly that torture and death in police custody must be avoided. Even without these laws, Article 35 of the Constitution, as the supreme law of the country, prohibits use of torture.  There is no doubt most of our police officers are highly educated and understand what the Constitution allows them and what not. They know that there are courts, operating under law and the Constitution is the source of such laws.

The special law was passed when it was found police were feeling free to resort to torturing person in their custody culminating often to death.

The law made torture in custody by law enforcers or government officials is a punishable crime, it does not give police free hands to use power illegally. In fact, the move to frame such a law started in 2009 in line with Article 35(5) of the Constitution to prohibit custodial torture. The Article says, "no person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment."

The Supreme Court in November last year in a landmark verdict also directed  magistrates to take action against errant police officers for infringement of the anti-torture law and the Prime Minister has reminded the police authorities of the verdict saying she can't approve such move.

The High Court order did not say what would be the yardstick for mental torture. So police claim in their plea for the repeal of the law that anyone can file false cases against police. The existing law is curbing the rights of law enforcers to interrogate accused without fear. It works as impediment to their duty.

But our police seem to have forgotten that they are enforcers of laws and assigned to investigate crimes. They are not for punishing criminals. We very much want our police to be a respectable force and not brutal one. They must use their special training and knowledge to find who should be tried in court for committed crimes.

They have already earned bad name nationally and internationally for abusing power. It seems they have not tried to learn restraint from the Narayangonj seven murder case committed by their members on hire most heinously.

We welcome the decision of the Prime Minister not readily agreeing to accept their demand. It is worrying that our police are not ready to give up practice of torture. They need to be rightly trained not to be a force of torture.  They have to be friend of the people who afford them good life. They are not political workers of any party.

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