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Refusal of bail and deaths in police custody must be taken as violation of constitutional rights against torture and right to life

26 January 2023 Editorial Desk
Refusal of bail and deaths in police custody must be taken as violation of constitutional rights against torture and right to life

We are deeply concerned to learn that arrest without warrant, interrogation of arrestees during remand and death in custodial brutalities are regular occurrences in Bangladesh. The members of the law enforcement agencies are often accused of abusing their power and defying human rights. A news report of The New Nation yesterday said that torture in police custody and deaths in remand has increased to the concern of the general public. Such are committed knowingly that right to life and liberty are guaranteed by the Constitution.

Recently, a trader named Rabiul Islam died after police of Gazipur's Bason Police Station took him into custody. But in the case filed by police, it was said that his death was caused by a road accident. Rabiul's brother Muhidul Islam has filed the case. Reportedly, Bason police arrested four persons including trader Rabiul from Gazipur's Bhogra Bypass Payarbagan area on charges of online gambling and drug dealing. The other three were released in exchange of money while Rabiul's relatives alleged that he was tortured to death as he refused to pay any money.

The next day morning, as locals agitated the incident by blocking Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Tangail highways, the two Assistant Sub-Inspectors of the said police station have been withdrawn in connection with their alleged torture and death of the trader. Unfortunately, such stories of torture and death are not uncommon, although victims rarely get justice.  Needless to say, the silence of the intelligentsia and the mainstream civil society on this important human rights abuse has been deafening.

This is not an isolated incident. The two other inmates also died in Kashimpur High Security Central Jail in Gazipur recently. However, the police and jail authorities blame each other for such deaths. Jail authorities claim that most of the remanded convicts come to jail in ill condition. However, the police deny allegations of torture in custody. Over the years, national human rights organizations have been expressing concern about the custodial torture and deaths in the country. According to the Law and Arbitration Center data, 328 inmates died in prison from January 2018 to July last year.

If the higher authorities fail to ensure credible and prompt investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of torture as must be punished promptly to earn public trust then the damage is deep and lost lasting. And the victims feel betrayed by the state, while the ordinary citizens' trust in the institution erodes. Although the number of deaths in gunfights has decreased, especially after the USA has imposed sanctions on RAB, deaths in police custody are still rampant. The trick done is they are sent to jail and die there. This must be stopped.

We often hear that the judiciary has to take the law ministry seriously and has to obtain clearance on bail matters.

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