HRW calls on Bangladesh to investigate police detectives for torture, enforced disappearances

File – Police officers deploy at a rally of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in Dhaka. – Syed Mahabubul Kader/ZUMA Press / DPA

The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), which specializes in monitoring the international human rights situation, has asked the Bangladeshi authorities to investigate the detective division of the National Police, accused in recent weeks of forced disappearances and torture.

HRW is particularly concerned about the case of shopkeeper Mohamed Rabiul Islam, who died in custody after being subjected to torture, as denounced at the time by Bangladeshi activists. The shopkeeper’s death sparked a wave of protests in the town of Gazipur. Police maintain that he died after being run over by a truck.

Lawyer Abu Hosain Rajon complained on 29 January that he had been subjected to torture by the detective division, as had journalist Raghunath Kha a week earlier, who claimed that the detectives had electrocuted him with tongs attached to his earlobes and beaten him with sticks on the soles of his feet.

Police have denied that the lawyer had been detained and denied the reporter’s allegations, the latest in a list of alleged abuses by detectives, according to HRW.

The NGO recalls that, in July 2019, the UN Committee against Torture described the Bangladesh Police as «a state within a state» able to «operate with impunity and zero accountability. There is only one recorded conviction for torture of a member of the security forces in the last decade.

HRW accuses Bangladesh of having ignored all the recommendations of the UN committee, such as the participation of independent monitors in all detention centers, as well as the launching of investigations into all the complaints filed, particularly in view of the general elections scheduled for early 2024.