The caretaker government has brought “politically motivated” charges against individuals and weakened fair-trial safeguards by setting up special courts, according to the latest global report of Amnesty International (AI).
The “Amnesty International Report 2008: State of the World’s Human Rights” released yesterday also says the police and army personnel have violated human rights in Bangladesh with impunity.
These are parts of a larger global trend observed by the AI, which also include suppressing dissent and promoting torture and ill treatment to gather intelligence.
“Fair trial safeguards were weakened by the use of Special Courts which imposed tight restrictions on defendants’ access to lawyers, and by the denial of bail to defendants charged under emergency regulations,” reads the report on Bangladesh.
According to the report, many were detained “arbitrarily” and held under emergency rules over the past year. “Some were then charged with politically motivated criminal offences,” says the report.
The AI has accused the security forces, including the army, paramilitary forces and the police, of violating human rights with impunity through “torture and other ill-treatment and alleged extra-judicial executions”.
“Army personnel accused of human rights violations remained almost entirely outside the purview of civilian judicial accountability mechanisms,” reports the AI.
AI Secretary General Irene Khan wrote to Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed last November, urging him to launch an unrestricted enquiry into human rights violations by security forces.
The report observes that the police lack adequate training and equipment, effective accountability and oversight mechanisms.
It reports that wide-ranging media restrictions, although not strictly enforced, compelled the media to intensify self-censorship.
“Journalists were threatened with arrest if they criticised intelligence agencies or the army,” it says, adding that human rights activists and lawyers have also fallen victims to state detention, torture or threats.
“As in previous years, human rights defenders were subjected to arbitrary detention and tortures. Lawyers were allegedly threatened with arrest on corruption charges if they took up high-profile cases,” says the AI, which operates in over 150 countries.
The report also reports of continued violence against women and the lack of government action to bring war criminals to justice.
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