Posts Tagged ‘lawlessness’

OHCHR gives preview of new report on Libya in 2014

February 10, 2015

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [OHCHR] published today (10 February) a report, which will be formally presented to the Human Rights Council only in March, describing the situation of human rights in Libya during 2014. It paints a bleak picture of increasing turmoil and lawlessness, fanned by a multitude of heavily armed groups amid a broadening political crisis. Rampant violence and fighting, including in the country’s two biggest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as many other cities and towns across the country, is badly affecting civilians in general and particularly cases of harassment, intimidation, torture, numerous abductions, and summary executions of human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists and other media professionals, as well as members of the judiciary, politicians and law enforcement officers.

The report, produced in conjunction with the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), also describes numerous incidents of violence against women over the past year, including reports of threats, attacks and killings of female human rights defenders, politicians and other women in public positions. Minority groups, including Egyptian Coptic Christians, have also been increasingly targeted. The report also highlights the extremely vulnerable situation of migrants.

Thousands of people remain in detention – mostly under the effective control of armed groups – with no means of challenging their situation as prosecutors and judges are unable or unwilling to confront the armed groups. UN human rights staff have received reports of torture or other ill-treatment in many places of detention. The deteriorating security environment has impacted heavily on the justice system, which is no longer functioning in parts of the country. Prosecutors and judges have frequently been subjected to intimidation and attacks, in the form of court bombings, physical assaults, abduction of individuals or family members and unlawful killings.

The report highlights the need to strengthen State institutions, ensure accountability for human rights violations and support the ongoing political dialogue.

The full report can be found here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session28/Documents/A_HRC_28_51_ENG.doc

via: OHCHR PRESS BRIEFING NOTES – (1) Libya, (2) Malaysia, (3) Thailand, (4) Venezuela – Press releases – News – StarAfrica.com.

Killing of human rights lawyer Rehman in Pakistan leads to low level response

May 17, 2014

The recent killing of the lawyer Rashid Rehman (or Rahman) in a case of blasphemy in Pakistan has created a lot of media attention. This report from the local newspaper The News International of 17 May throws an interesting light on the follow up within the police and alleges that two lower level policemen have been made the scapegoats:

“Police bosses have held their subordinates responsible for their incompetence and negligence in the murder of human rights activist Rashid Rahman. The Multan CPO has transferred Chyllyak SHO Ghulam Abbas and Shah Shamas SHO Akbar Kamboh for their negligence in providing security to Rashid Rahman. On the other hand, a senior police official has contradicted receiving any sort of application from Rashid Rahman for security protection. The official said the government could not provide security to each citizen on demand. The government only provides security to the accused and complainant in all cases, including in blasphemy cases, instead of providing security to counsels. Rashid Rehman was gunned down in his chamber on May 7 evening just a month after he had been threatened by the prosecution during a court hearing. No progress could be made on his murder after eight days of the high profile assassination, which had been condemned across the world. The UN and the US have urged the government to ensure the arrest of killers. Sources in the CPO office disclosed that the route of providing security shelter passed through the SSP Operations. “When someone seeks security, he submits his request to the CPO office who forwards it to the SSP Operation for looking into the matter whether the applicant is deserved for security or not,” they added. They said the HRCP Task Force had informed the Multan CPO office on receiving life threats. The CPO office directed Cantonment SP Mehmoodul Hassan to ensure security to Rashid Rehman. The SP asked Shah Shamas SHO Akram Kamboh to ensure security in jail while Chyllyak SHO Ghulam Abbas was directed to ensure security in his chamber at District Courts. They said that both the SHOs had been suspended in this regard. On the other hand, the Punjab IGP office had directed the Multan CPO to ensure security for Rashid Rahman at any cost on the report submitted by Punjab Special Branch on April 21. However, the CPO office did not comply with the IGP office order and assigned a task to SSP Operation to provide security to rights activist. The sources said that the senior officers had suspended two SHOs to save their skin. CPO Sultan Ahmed Chaudhry was repeatedly contacted on Friday, but his gunman Abdur Razaaq promised every time to ring back, but to no avail. Multan SSP Operations Shaukat Abbas, however, denied that the application was sent to the police by the slain for security. “The government does not provide security to everyone in blasphemy cases. The government only provides security to the complainant and the accused,” he said. The government cannot provide security to the defence counsel even in blasphemy cases, he added. Meanwhile, human rights activists criticised the police for adopting dual standards. The police did not provide security to Rashid Rahman despite his application, but security was provided to a Muhammad Latif Ansar Sial alias Prof Lajpal. He is not an academician but always shows himself as professor. Lajpal had contested in all general elections or local bodies held in the past. He participated in the 2013 elections from NA-151 and PP-198, securing only 59 and 9 votes as an independent candidate. He contested the 2008 elections from NA-151 and secured 183 votes. Rights activists observed police were not taking one of the valuable assassinations seriously and using delaying tactics. The United Nations declared it a cold-blooded murder and strongly condemned it on May 9, right after the second assassination. They urged the government to ensure prompt investigation into the matter so that lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists could work without any fear. The spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville in Geneva said the murder of Rashid Rahman had “brought into stark focus the climate of intimidation and threats that permeates the work of human rights defenders and journalists in the country.“ The UN had urged the government last month to investigate the threats and ensure security for Rehman. “We condemn the killing of Rehman and urge the government to ensure a prompt investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the UN spokesman said.

via MULTAN City News – thenews.com.pk.

BANGLADESH: Chains of Corruption Strangle Nation — Asian Human Rights Commission

May 12, 2014

To better understand the climate of lawlessness in which the Final Nominee of the MEA 2014, Adilur of ODHIKAR, has to operate, please read the detailed statement below by the Asian Human Rights Commission. It tells how seven men, including a lawyer and city councillor, have been murdered in cold blood, mostly likely by the infamous Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Bangladesh. I decided not to shortened it:

“The rule of law does not exist in Bangladesh. The way the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) abducted seven men, including a senior lawyer and a member of the mayoral panel of the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC), on 27 April 2014, and murdered them, allegedly on behalf of a feuding faction of the ruling party, in exchange for a 60 million Taka (US$ 774,000) bribe, is proof yet again of this fact. The role of family members of a cabinet minister in masterminding the operation, police inaction in the face of knowledge of the abduction, and eyewash gestures at the highest levels of government confirm fears. The politics of blood and wealth reign supreme in Bangladesh; there is no space for the rule of law. A ‘chain of corruption’ has replaced the ‘chain of command’ in Bangladesh’s law-enforcement system, and the people are forced to pay more to the law enforcers than they do their government (For further details, please see an earlier statement on the subject).

On 27 April 2014, Mr. Md. Nazrul Islam, a Councillor of the NCC, approached the district’s Sessions Court to seek permanent bail in a case filed against him and his followers by political opponents, the Bangladesh Awami League, i.e. the ruling party.

At the court premises, Nazrul was under constant surveillance by plain-clothed members of the RAB. Nazrul’s associates caught one of the plain-clothed men, who happened to be armed, and handed him to the on-duty police officers at the court. The police released the man following intervention by a uniformed RAB officer, who came to rescue his colleague. Vehicles with “‘RAB-11’ signs were also noticed parked in front of the court.

By 12:30 p.m., Nazrul and fifteen more persons, who were all accused in the same case, managed to get bail from the court. After a while, Nazrul, along with three associates and his car driver, left the court. Their car began heading towards Dhaka through the Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road. Mr. Chandan Kumar Sarker, a senior lawyer of the Narayanganj Bar Association, whose car followed that of Nazrul, left the court for lunch at his home, located adjacent to the Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road.

The RAB team abducted Nazrul and his associates, allegedly from a place called Lamapara. Chandan’s car is reported to have arrived at the scene right when Nazrul and his associates were being abducted by the RAB. So there would be not witnesses to the abduction, the RAB team abducted Chandan and his car driver too.

Within 24 hours of the abduction, Chandan’s car was found at the Gulshan Niketan area of Dhaka, while the car carrying Nazrul and his associates was found at Rajendrapur, Gazipur District, where a cantonment is situated. After three days, on 30 April, dead bodies of six of the seven men were found floating in the Shitalakkhaya river, adjacent to Narayanganj. The seventh body was found in the same river on 1 May. Each dead body had 24 bricks fastened to it, 12 in the front and 12 in the back. The bricks were placed in ration bags, similar to those distributed among security forces.

The Civil Surgeon of Narayanganj district, who headed the team that conducted the autopsy on the dead bodies, told the media that all the seven victims were hit in the head before they were strangulated. The injuries on most bodies appeared similar; Nazrul’s body had additional injury marks. The abdomens of all seven bodies were perforated, so that the bodies would not float. However, the jute ropes used in fastening the dead bodies rotted under water and gave way. As a result, the dead bodies surfaced. The Civil Surgeon said that he believed “only professional, skilled and trained people could have carried out such an act.

The police officers later admitted to the media and local human rights defenders that they came to know about the abduction of seven people, including Nazrul Islam and Chandan Sarker, soon after the incidents occurred. However, the police did not take any action. The police did not include the names of any RAB officers in the complaint regarding Nazrul’s disappearance. This is the kind of immunity enjoyed by criminals in the RAB, and the goons of the ruling parties of Bangladesh. The deliberate avoidance of the police, other units of RAB and all the agencies in rescuing the abducted men alive also indicates the level of lawlessness that plagues the country.

Lt. Col. Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Commander of RAB-11, based in Narayanganj, is married to a daughter of Mr. Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury (Maya), a cabinet minister of the incumbent regime. The RAB-11 Commander and his brother-in-law, Mr. Sajedul Islam Chowdhury, also known as Dipu Chowdhury (son of Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury), who is a business partner of NCC Councillor Nur Hossain, allegedly planned the abduction and disappearance of Nazrul, as a result of enmity between Nazrul and Nur, with Nur, allegedly, being a goon of Mr. Shamim Osman.

Mr. Shamim Osman, a Member of Parliament from Narayanganj district won his seat uncontested in the January 5th fake parliamentary election (For further details, please seeAHRC’s statement on the fake general elections in Bangladesh here). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina backs Mr. Osman; he has even claimed, in a press briefing, that he informed the Sheikh Hasina over telephone within ten minutes of the RAB abduction. Sheikh Hasina, who also happens to be the nation’s Home Minister, has not denied Shamim’s version of events.

The Prime Minister and Home Minister Sheikh Hasina took no action to save the lives of the abducted seven. Her hands are stained with the blood of these seven victims. Following continued public protest, the government withdrew top officials from Narayanganj district two days after the disappearance of the seven men. The officers include the Deputy Commissioner (DC), the Superintendent of Police (SP), and three officers of the RAB-11, namely Lt. Col. Tareque Sayeed Mohammad, Major Arif Hossain, and Lt. Commander SM Masud Rana. The three military officers were deputed back to their original units in the army and navy. On 5 May, the government announced that these three military officers had been given forced retirements. The government has, however, not frozen their bank accounts or arrested any of the officers.

Since the abduction and disappearance of the seven men, a number of people took to the streets around Narayanganj and other parts of the country. The district Bar Association continuously staged protests demanding the return of their member, Mr. Chandan Kumar Sarker. The lawyers called for a general strike in the district, which was supported by different Bar Associations in Bangladesh. Public protests have not stopped.

The Narayanganj Bar Association, along with another organisation and the son-in-law of slain lawyer Chandan Kumar Sarker, has filed a writ petition with the High Court Division demanding the arrest of the military officers.

On 11 May 2014, a High Court Bench has directed the government and the Inspector General of Bangladesh Police to arrest the three military officers. Two of the officers are reportedly being housed in the Logistic Area of the Dhaka Cantonment. The High Court has also asked the authorities to explain why they would not be directed to “effectively consider an amendment to the existing law(s) regulating professional activities of the police, RAB and other law enforcement agencies aiming at updating their various legal provisions relating to their duties and responsibilities towards ensuring effective enjoyment of the citizens’ rights enshrined Article 31, 32, 36, 42 and 44 of the constitution.

The court has reportedly asked the authorities to explain why the government would not be directed to ensure ‘uninfluenced’ and ‘unbiased’ investigation into the murders. The authorities have also been asked why the government would not be directed to “oversee the performance of the law enforcement agencies in view of human rights“. Secretaries to the home, law, and public administration ministries, the National Human Rights Commission chairman, and the Inspector General of Police have been asked to reply in four weeks. The police have not yet identified all the alleged RAB perpetrators and no RAB official has yet been accused in the cases filed regarding the seven victims.

Could this abduction and murder of seven men have been committed by but three officers? It is likely that more than a dozen RAB personnel were involved in the crime; this is something the government has been trying ignore. Bangladeshis know that the officers of the military and paramilitary forces – such as the Bangladesh Army, the RAB, and the police – enjoy impunity for the crimes they commit. Officers of the armed forces and ruling politicians and their associates and families are understood to be above Bangladesh’s Constitution and other domestic laws while the party is in power.

Everyday, citizens are abducted by plain clothed men claiming to be the officers of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the Detective Branch (DB) of Police. No such incident has been met with a credible investigation. Citizen questions about the abductions, which are followed by either disappearance or the recovery of dead bodies, have not been answered.

In few incidences the abductees have been found alive, following temporary disappearance. These victims and their families are usually more scared than ever. Nobody dares to share the true stories of their abduction, either publicly or privately, on fear of extrajudicial execution, and with an understanding that an official complaint will come to nothing. On the other hand, law-enforcement agencies continue to blame ‘criminals’ for such abductions and disappearances.

The people of Bangladesh have been demanding that the RAB be disbanded immediately for its utter failure in acting under the purview of the laws of the land. Instead, the RAB, which claims to be an ‘elite force’, has always blamed ‘criminals’ for gross violation of human rights, such as the extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. If the RAB’s job is to blame ‘criminals’ for committing crimes like abduction and disappearance, criminals that use similar uniforms, vehicles, and mien across the country, then what kind of elite force is the RAB? The Asian Human Rights Commission and its sister organisation the Asian Legal Resource Centre recommended in 2006 that the government of Bangladesh disband the RAB. At that time, a Special Report titled “Lawless law-enforcement and the parody of judiciary in Bangladesh” was published in article2. The AHRC reiterates that the RAB should be disbanded, immediately, joining voices in Bangladesh making this demand at present.

The discourse regarding abduction, disappearance, and extrajudicial executions should not focus on only the seven victims of Narayanganj, i.e. on event reporting. There are so many names like Mohammad Salim Mian, Imam Hossain Badal, Chowdhury Alam, M. Ilias Ali, who have been victim to enforced disappearance. In last eight years, hundreds of people have been disappeared. The discourse must include all these victims. None of their families have received any answer from the government or justice through the judiciary. The people have to find a way to bring the rule of law to Bangladesh. Presently, law-enforcement agencies do not comply with the system of rule of law. It is the chains of corruption that are being complied with. And, it is these chains of corruption that are strangling the nation and mangling the fate of rule of law, against the people’s aspirations.”

 

BANGLADESH: Chains of Corruption Strangle Nation — Asian Human Rights Commission.