Police chief admits abuse of emergency laws

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)*

June 12, 2008

The Inspector General of the Bangladesh Police, Mr. Noor Mohammad, was widely cited in the national dailies on 10 June 2008 following his comments in a press briefing held at Police Headquarters on 9 June 2008 regarding the ongoing en masse arbitrary arrests in the country.

According to a report published in the Bhorer Kagoj, a vernacular daily, Mr. Noor said the police had been arresting an average of 1,667 persons every day as part of its regular operation to improve the country’s law and order situation prior to the upcoming elections in the country. The previous rate of daily arrests was 1,345.

The IGP was quoted, “suspects have been arrested under Rule 16(2) of the Emergency Powers Rules of 2007 instead of under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The detainees of Section 54 could have been granted bail easily if not any specific complaint against them could be found. So, we previously used detention orders (to obstruct bails from the Courts). Now because Rule 16(2) of the Emergency Powers Rules does not allow bail to anyone easily, there is no necessity of the 37-years-old practice of detention order.” He added that the current operation will be continued until 28 June. 

The IGP revealed a partial picture of the arrests in his statement. His statement also exposed the intrinsic attitudes and mindset of the police force, which is keen to keep people in detention manipulating laws like the emergency ordinance and rules. It is ultimately an admission by the police boss that there have been random abuses of the Emergency Powers Rules of 2007 since the state of emergency had been imposed. The statement also implies that the police arrest “suspects” most of whom do not have any specific charge against them and subsequently manage to get bail from the Courts, meaning that the arrests were made arbitrarily.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges the authorities of Bangladesh to stop the arbitrary arrest and detention of innocent persons without having a specific charge against them. The ongoing abuse of the Emergency Powers Rules, 2007 must be stopped immediately. The AHRC also urges the UN Human Rights Council and the concerned independent experts at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to consider the statement of the chief of the Bangladesh Police as an open admission of the violation of basic norms of fundamental rights and intervene into the situation.   

*AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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