Justice sought as custodial torture, death continue

In consultation with victims' families and rights workers, they said that the state must be sincere in providing justice for those who have suffered from custodial death and torture. They should also prosecute offenders to ensure a strong criminal justice delivery system.

Rights activists called for the preparation of a list of officials within law enforcement agencies responsible for torture custodial.

The consultation was organized by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust on the 1st anniversary of the verdict in the death of Ishtiaque Ahmad Jony, an Urdu-speaking youth, in Pallabi police custody in 2014.

Three police officers were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court on September 9, 2020. Two police informers were also jailed for seven years by the court for their involvement in the 2014 killing.

Jony's brother ImtiazHossain Rocky addressed the consultation and said that he had yet to receive justice because the case was still pending at the High Court.

He said that he was living under threat because the justice was still pending.

He said that none of the absconding convicts was arrested. However, the family received the compensation in the verdict.

Abu Saeed Khan, a senior journalist, said that the state mechanism is slowly turning people into their enemies instead of serving them.

He stated that the practice of custodial torture and death, as well as cruelty, continued, and that very few cases were being reported.

Sharmin Akhter is a senior staff attorney at BLAST. She stated that many victims' families are afraid of being prosecuted by the perpetrators. She suggested that the public be made aware of the safeguards under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act 2013.

She stated that the government should accept responsibility for the crimes of its employees, and that a compensation fund for victims and their families should be established.

Lawyer Bodiuzzaman Tarakdar stated that the state should have taken appropriate measures to ensure safety and security for prosecution witnesses during serious crimes.

Nur Khan Liton, a rights activist, stated that civil and political rights activists should have created the list of torturers in government services to allow the public to know about them.

SM Rezaul Karim is a Supreme Court lawyer and a legal advisor at BLAST. He stated that they do not plan to compile such a list.

Md Nizamul Huq Nasim (retired justice of the Appellate Section at the Supreme Court) recalled in his closing remarks how he was offered Tk5 lakh years ago while he was assisting with a similar case.

He claimed that many people wanted the death penalty in these cases, but he was always against it.

Odhikar claims that at least 54 people were killed in between 2014-2019 after an anti-torture bill was passed by the parliament on October 27, 2013. This law criminalises all acts of torture.

In their January 2021 annual report, Odhikar stated that 19 people were allegedly tortured and killed in 2020.

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