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Bangladesh: Stop Using Preventive Detention

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Human Rights NGOs demand a total end to preventive detention by army-led joint forces in Bangladesh. The government has asked officials to be cautious about civilian harassment during the anti-crime drive, but incidents of preventive detention continue to increase.


FORUM-ASIA, Resource Integration Center (RIC), Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA), Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), and Odhikar demand a total end to preventive detention by the army-led joint forces in Bangladesh. The continuation of preventive detention clearly violates basic human rights that Bangladesh is committed to respect as part of international human rights treaties. We believe that Bangladesh will maintain its promises as expressed in the Constitution, guaranteeing human rights for all its citizens.

We express trepidation on a report that states an alarming 220,178 people were detained from January to May, 2007 and nearly half of the detainees were picked up without any specific charges in the last five months, as reported by the Daily Star on 25 June 2007. Although the government has issued warnings in the past asking officials to avoid victimising innocent people in their arrests, the warnings have been largely ineffective in reducing the number of people in preventive detention. Statistics from the Home Ministry reveal a total of 18,985 people were arrested in April and 19,542 in May, either on suspicion or under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Act.

In recognition of government efforts, we believe more effective measures are possible. Law enforcers have been asked to reduce preventive detentions as a means of fighting crime and corruption. The Advisory Committee on Law and Order, at a meeting on Sunday 24 June 2007, asked officials to be cautious about civilian harassment during the anti-crime drive, which the army-led joint forces have been carrying out across the country since early January 2007. Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Advisor, Mr. Mainul Hosein, called for an end to the rampant arrests that are based merely on the First Investigation Reports (FIR). In his words, “We have asked the law enforcing agencies to ensure that the law is not misused under the state of emergency.”

We are obliged to renew our demand for effective direction from the government of Bangladesh for a total end to preventive detention of its citizens: a simple announcement or warning will no longer suffice as an effective method to halt such activity. We are concerned about the high number of preventive detention incidents and the maltreatment of detainees. We demand that the government of Bangladesh take specific steps to stop such incidents. We also wish to remind the government of Bangladesh of their promise to establish the National Human Rights Council.

In solidarity,

Anselmo Lee
Executive Director

Party to the statement:
1)The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA),
2)Resource Integration Center (RIC),
3)Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA),
4)Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), and

For further information, please contact Shekh Mohammad Altafur Rahman, Coordinator, South Asia Program, FORUM-ASIA. Email: [email protected]; Phone: 0066-02-3918801.