Amnesty Int'l against cop proposal

Bangladesh on 30 March 2015
Location : Dhaka, Bangladesh | Source : The Daily Star; Image Source: Joe Athialy (Flickr)

Amnesty International yesterday urged the government to reject the police proposal for immunity for its members from prosecution for torture.

In a public statement, the UK-based rights watchdog said the Bangladesh government must firmly turn down the police's proposal to undermine legal safeguards against torture and ensure that these safeguards truly act as a deterrent, by bringing to justice police officers involved in torture.

“Reject the proposal outright and publically declare that no one against whom sufficient and admissible evidence of involvement in torture exists will be shielded from prosecution,” added Amnesty.

It called upon the government to take decisive action to investigate all complaints and reports of torture without exception and bring those responsible to justice.

According to a report run by this newspaper on Monday, police have sought cancellation of a legal provision that bars them from justifying torture and inhuman treatment of anyone in custody even in circumstances like war and political unrest.

The Jatiya Sangsad passed the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act in 2013, making torture in the hands of law enforcers or government officials a punishable offence.

The police headquarters proposed scrapping the act's Section 12 that says no excuses like war situation, threat of war, political instability, state of emergency, or orders of senior official or the government authorities will be acceptable for any crime under this law.

The rights watchdog said, “With this proposal, the police force appears to be admitting that its officers are using torture to extract information from detainees, a practice that Bangladesh is legally bound to prevent, stop, punish and provide reparations for under the UN Convention against Torture and other international treaties.”

For decades, the Bangladeshi police have in practice remained immune from prosecution for torture, including in many cases where the evidence has been extremely strong, read the statement.

“Victims of torture have told the AI that officers in police stations are reluctant to accept complaints of torture under this act. Only on occasions when there has been a public outcry, has a prosecution followed,” mentioned Amnesty.

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