Shocking but not surprising

Bangladesh on 24 June 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : New Age. Image Source: Flickr User Ashiful Haque

IT IS hardly surprising that the police headquarters, according to a report published in New Age on Sunday, receive some 1,000 allegations of crime and abuse against its personnel every month. The figures could, in fact, appear way too conservative to most people, given the glut of media reports about crime and excesses perpetrated by law enforcers across the country. From extrajudicial murders to custodial killings, abduction to extortion, robbery to mugging, rent-seeking to bribery, there have been too many cases implicating law enforcement personnel for the ordinary citizens to believe otherwise.

What may be even more frustrating for people at large has been the perceptible lack of accountability in the police and some other law enforcement agencies, to the extent that law enforcers have been allowed to get away with murder, literally. For example, although extrajudicial murders by members of the police, the Rapid Action Battalion and some other law enforcement agencies continue, in custody through torture or out in remote areas in the city and elsewhere in the country through the so-called ‘encounter’, ‘gunfight’, ‘shootout’, etc, there has virtually been no case where any law enforcer has been identified and arrested for such killings, let alone prosecuted and punished.

Moreover, the Awami League-led government, which assumed office with a promise to show ‘zero tolerance’ to extrajudicial killing, has thus far not only dismissed widespread calls for independent inquiry into each incident of such killings but also sought defend these, citing law enforcers’ right to self-defence. In such circumstances, when the inspector general of police talks of attempts at improving ‘professional standard in the force’ and ‘focusing on human rights-sensitive... policing’, one cannot be faulted for not being particularly convinced.

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