Commission needed to probe extrajudicial killings

Editorial, NewAge, August 15, 2008. Dhaka, Bangladesh

THE rally that academics, writers, artistes and human rights activists staged on the Dhaka University campus on Wednesday in protest against extrajudicial killings by the law-enforcement agencies could not have come at a more opportune time. As the number of deaths in ‘crossfire’ or ‘encounter’ – two terms that the law enforcers conveniently use apparently as pretexts for their extrajudicial actions – steadily surges, it appears that the state and its managers, the government in other words, have very little or no qualms about employing extrajudicial killings as a tool in their so-called anti-crime activism. Extrajudicial killings, as has been pointed out by the politically-conscious and democratically-oriented sections of society over and over, undermine the rule of law, which presupposes that even the vilest of criminals reserves the right to be defended in a competent and credible court of law and is entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Worryingly still, given the identity of some of the victims in recent years, there are reasons to fear that extrajudicial killings have of late been used as a tool to systematically silence the voices that do not conform to the mainstream political thinking.
   

It is in such a context that we commented in these columns recently that the thinking sections of society, whose political orientation is moulded by the concept of the rule of law and democratic justice, have to raise their voices against extrajudicial killings. Wednesday’s rally is, we believe, a significant first step in that direction. We support the call for an immediate stop to extrajudicial killings and institution of an independent commission to probe each alleged instance of extrajudicial killing. We also feel the political parties must demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law by taking a firm position against extrajudicial killings and by not using it as a law and order tool ever again.

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