Extrajudicial killing: Where is the end?
All of the human rights organization define extrajudicial killing is a deprivation of life unjust or unconstitutional, and clearly a homicide. Recently, a retd Major of Bangladesh Army was killed by law enforcers. Now it is a burning issue and many policemen were suspended for this reason and an investigation committee is introduced as well. Nowadays it is a common scenario that almost everyday people are killed by extrajudicial killing. According to statistics by Odhikar, 4002 suspected were killed by different law enforcement agencies from 2000- June 2020. Last year it was 391 but this year the number is 158. Imagine, after the end of the year, if this continues, how many people will be victimized?
Constitution protects the right of every citizen, where extrajudicial killing violets our rights and it is totally contradictory to the constitution. Extrajudicial killing is also a complete violation of natural justice. Because everyone has a right to a trial before a court and before the sentence, an accused will be treated as innocent.
Article 27 of the constitution says that everyone is equal before the law. Where the fundamental things of the law, which is natural justice when the law enforcement agencies violate it, then a question, must arise: do our government able to protect our rights?
Article 31 of the constitution states, "To enjoy the protection of the law, and to be treated in accordance with the law, and only in accordance with the law, is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Bangladesh, and in particular no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with the law."
According to Article 32 of the constitution, "No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty saves in accordance with law."
In the above-mentioned articles, it is clearly indicated that the constitution ensures our right to protection of the law, and it will protect the right to life and personal liberty. Then the question arises, how the constitution will do that? The answer is it will be done by the law enforcement agencies under the instruction of the authorities to protect the constitutional right. But the fact is, when the enforcement agencies break the laws, then what will be the consequences for the general people? Because no perpetrator gets any punishment yet! The reasons behind that are lack of witness, improper investigations, and the issue of self-defense. The fact is every time after the extrajudicial killing in the name of gunfight, encounters, and crossfire, they make excuses for self-defense.
According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted in 1966 and which was ratified by Bangladesh in 2000, "every human being has the inherent right to life," and it also states 'this right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." So, according to this government of Bangladesh has to protect the life of every citizen, and if it is violated government should be introduced remedies.
Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" where extrajudicial killing is a complete violation of this article because extrajudicial killing is treated as an inhuman and barbarous act all over the world. None the less, Bangladesh is a signatory of many other treaties that are related to human rights like ICESCR, CRC, etc. So law enforcement agencies have some duty with respect to these treaties. Then a question must ask: does Bangladesh breach the international obligations?
Bangladesh is a democratizing country, and it has a well established judicial system. As a democratic country, the rule of law must need to be established. Because everyone has a right to a trial, and everyone has the right to life. Criminals should be punished by the court but not by the law enforcement agencies. It must need to be remembered that without any legal justification, everyone is innocent.
We know criminal activities are climbing up at a high rate. Our law enforcement agencies are trying hard and soul to prevent crime. But, in the name of the prevention, an extrajudicial killing which is included gunfight, encounters, and crossfire which is totally unconstitutional and breach of international obligations nonetheless, it shows disrespect to the court because the court is also against the extrajudicial killing cause we saw many suomoto in different times. Furthermore, it can create bad impressions all over because when law enforce agencies break the law then a question may arise about the law and order. We must remember that, if the law and order of a country is not stable then foreign investor can lost their confidence on the grounds of safety and it has grave consequences. Moreover, if it continues then public will lost their trust on law enforcement agencies and the administration.
So, I think it is high time to prevent extrajudicial killing to establish the rule of law and natural justice because when the law enforcement agencies break the laws, who will protect the rights of the citizen?
The writer is a fellow of DLA PIPER UK and an LL M student at NSU