Monday, February 24, 2020 | ePaper

Custodial death goes as worst kind of disregard for law

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ABU BAKAR Siddique Babu was arrested around 8:00pm on Saturday by Tejgaon Industrial Police. Later he was found hanging from the iron bars of a lockup room of the same police station around 3:00am on Sunday. He was pronounced dead at Dhaka Medical College Hospital about an hour later. It was the latest example of custodial death in our country. Forensic specialists found multiple injury marks on Siddique's head, legs and a dark mark over his neck. However, the marks were not serious enough to suggest that he died from those injuries and the tissues and viscera would need to be collected from the body for further investigation. If the police have the CCTV footage then why aren't they showing it? A three-member committee has been formed to investigate the incident, the DMP chief told reporters in the capital's Dhanmondi, promising action against the guilty. But how many police personnel have been found guilty of custodial torture so far?
Since 2014, a total of over 285 people were reported to have died in custody, including 119 convicts and 166 under-trial prisoners, according to Ain o Salish Kendra, a non-government legal aid and human rights organization based in Dhaka. On October 25, 2013, parliament enacted a law, the "Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Act-2013," to prevent torture and deaths in custody. However, since adoption of the law, the government has not used the law. Fewer than 10 cases of torture have been registered since the law was enacted. Among the registered cases, investigation has not led to any prosecution in more than six years. By contrast, numerous incidents of torture routinely occur throughout the country. The families in most cases choose to keep mum and display strong reluctance in seeking legal action against accused members of security forces, while some do not even know about the Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Act.
Ignoring constitutional mandate is nothing for the government. But allowing law enforcing agencies to kill people is a jungle law and this practice makes the government seen as brutal of worst kind. The Constitution specifically prohibits killing without due process of law. But the government seems not to care. We are creating a cruel society for all by tolerating crossfire killings by police and deaths in police custody.

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