Vol. 5 Num 185 Tue. November 30, 2004  
Front Page

HR workers against indemnity to law enforcers

Local and international rights activists yesterday called for nullifying the impunity provision from the constitution as they found it a fundamental obstacle to the promotion and implementation of human rights of the citizens.

The promulgation of laws to indemnify the law enforcers and other persons is "denial of fundamental rights and broadening path of discrimination, torture and inhuman treatment" which thereby encourages and facilitates many other forms of impunity, they observed at a national conference on human rights.

The provision is also contradictory to many provisions of international human rights instruments and part III of the Bangladesh constitution comprising Articles 26 to 47A that define and protect fundamental rights of the citizens, the conference was told.

Their observations came from the concluding session of the two-day national conference on "Institutional Protection of Human Rights: Role of Civil Society, NGOs and Media" at the IDB Bhaban in the capital.

State Minister for NGO Affairs Lutfor Rahman Khan Azad was special guest in the concluding session of the conference arranged by the law ministry in cooperation with UNDP and Australian High Commission in Dhaka.

Former Law Secretary Md Aminullah, Head of the Program Support Unit (PSU) of the Save the Children, UK, Nayeem Wahra, Programme Manager, UNDP, AH Monjurul Kabir, Head of Human Rights Unit of Commonwealth Secretariat, London, Hanif Vally, former advisor to the caretaker government, Major General (Retd) Moinul Hossain Chowdhury, Deputy Attorney General of Bangladesh, Adilur Rahman Khan, and Associate Professor of the Department of Law of Dhaka University Dr Asif Nazrul spoke in the session.

Addressing the session, the human rights activists alleged police frequently abuse the 'Code of Criminal Procedure 1898' that includes Section 54 of the CrPC and Section 86 of the DMP Ordinance.

Complaints were also made against abuse of Section 167 of CrPC, Special Powers Act 1974, Special Security Force Ordinance 1986 and Joint Drive Indemnity Law 2003.

Such transgressions are "direct violation of human rights as the laws cover a wide range of situations like lack of investigation, of punishment and of justice," said the DU teacher Asif Nazrul.

He also noted that the law-enforcing agencies cause extra-judicial killing, systematic harassment of political opponents, victimisation of innocent people for serving personal interests taking advantages of the impunity.

"Impunity can spell disastrous impact for the disadvantaged and weaker population of the country. Legalised impunity breeds further violation of rights and facilities many other forms of impunity," said Asif.

To challenge the "vicious cycle of impunity" effectively, he suggested immediate formation of a separate, independent and powerful investigating agency like the proposed national human rights commission.