279 fall victim to extrajudicial killing in 20 months: Says Odikhar report

Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star, September 13, 2008
At least 279 people fell victim to extrajudicial killing by the law enforcement agencies across the country during the state of emergency between January 2007 and September 2008, revealed a study report yesterday.

The report published by Odhikar, a human rights organisation, covers 20 months of the present government. 

The government has set up National Human Rights Commission in the country only to shore up their credibility before the international community rather than safeguarding the rights of the people, it added.

The report mentioned that the National Human Rights Commission Ordinance 2007 provided for establishment of an independent body to safeguard the people’s rights, but it left the power to select the chairman and members of the commission to a committee controlled by the government officials, which is an impediment to establishing an independent body.

The ordinance stated that the commission would resolve the human rights violations through arbitration or mediation, but Odhikar said the violators should be tried in a court of law, which will ensure exemplary punishment of the perpetrators.

Besides, Right to Information Ordinance will curb the freedom of the press and people’s right to know rather than extending it, the report said, adding that if the ordinance is promulgated, a person even a journalist will need to apply in a prescribed form for information and the authority will have the power to reject the application or provide the information sought.

It also expressed concern that the draft ordinance was prepared by a committee dominated by bureaucrats who ignored submissions made by key stakeholders like Federal Union of Journalists, National Press Club and South Asian Free Media Association.

Odhikar observed that the tele-tapping by the state is a direct contravention of Article 43 (b) of the constitution that ensure a person’s right to the privacy of his correspondence and other means of communication.

The report said Truth and Accountability Communication (Tac) has not only failed to attain its desired objective, but it is also contrary to the constitutional provisions and the spirit of law.

Tac’s aim to re-energise the country’s economy has failed. Corrupt businessmen and bureaucrats are allowed to continue their businesses and services while politicians are barred from contesting in the elections after being bestowed with mercy from the commission, it added.

The report further said the government should allow trade unionism in all sectors to ensure a sustainable and healthy growth of the economy.

 
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