Bangladesh
09.04.02
Urgent Interventions

Bangladesh: arrest, detention and torture of Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir

Case BGD 090402
Arbitrary detention/Torture/Impunity

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Bangladesh.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), a member of the OMCT network, of the arbitrary arrest on March 15th, 2002, and subsequent arbitrary detention and torture of Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

According to the information received, Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, the former State Minister for Planning, was arbitrarily arrested at the Zia International Airport on March 15th, 2002, and taken to the Special Branch of the police office. Dr. Alamgir, who had just arrived from abroad, was detained under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), for ‘instigating’ government officials and employees into joining the held at the Janatar Mancha (people’s dais) in Dhaka in 1996, that led to the removal of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s Government from power. The BNP, which has now returned to power, has reportedly begun disciplinary proceedings against over 180 civil servants who joined the Janatar Mancha demonstration.

On March 16th, 2002, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s (CMM) Court in Dhaka ordered that Dr. Alamgir be detained for two days, and on March 19th, 2002, his detention was extended for another two days. After the two-day detention period expired on March 22nd, 2002, Dr. Alamgir was reportedly not taken to court, but was instead taken to the central jail in Dhaka. On March 21st, 2002, Dr. Alamgir’s defence lawyers submitted a petition for a bail hearing to the CMM, and a date was fixed for March 24th, 2002. At the hearing, Dr. Alamgir reportedly complained about the torture and ill treatment to which he had reportedly been subjected while in detention.

According to the information received, Dr. Alamgir reported that he had been taken to an unknown detention facility, where he was brutally tortured. He was allegedly beaten with bamboo sticks by three masked men, and a bottle was pushed into his rectum. Furthermore, during the two-day extension period of detention he was reportedly subjected to electric shocks on his genitals. Although Dr. Alamgir suffers from diabetes, he was not allowed to take his medicine, which was reportedly kept in a briefcase in police custody. While in detention, he was deprived of food, water and sleep, and was not given a mosquito net. Following a writ petition filed by Dr. Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir, Dr. Alamgir’s elder brother, on March 17th, 2002, the High Court Division of the Bangladesh Supreme Court verbally ordered the Attorney General of Bangladesh to announce Dr. Alamgir’s location, and instructed that he should only be interrogated while in police custody. Dr. Alamgir, however, claims also to have been interrogated by the Joint Interrogation Team at an undisclosed location believed to be the Dhaka Cantonment. Following Dr. Alamgir’s complaints on March 24th, 2002, the magistrate reportedly recorded that Dr. Alamgir had been tortured, but did not order an investigation.

According to the information received, it is believed that Dr. Alamgir’s detention is arbitrary and politically motivated. The police reportedly failed to bring any charges against Dr. Alamgir’s until March 19th, 2002, when they submitted a petition to demonstrate that he had been arrested in connection with a case filed with Kochua Thana in Chandpur (case no. 26(9) 2001, Sec. 143, 326, 307). This case is reportedly based on a wireless message sent by the authorities in Chandpur, in which it is stated that the former minister was suspected of attempted murder on September 20th, 2000, although the message does not mention the identity of the victim of the alleged crime. Dr. Alamgir was subsequently placed in detention for one month under the Special Power Act (SPA), which allows the government to imprison an individual for up to 90 days without a formal charge.

According to the information received, on March 30th, 2002, the High Court requested that the government submit within two weeks their reason for detaining Dr. Alamgir under the SPA, after Dr. Alamgir’s brother submitted a petition questioning the legality of the detention order. Dr. Alamgir was due to attend a court hearing at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrates Court in Dakha on March 31st, 2002, but was reportedly not allowed to attend due to ‘security reasons’. A custody warrant was allegedly sent by the prison’s authorities to fix a new date. The Magistrate Kazi Meraj Hossain has set the next court hearing to take place on April 15th, 2002.

The Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned for Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir’s physical and psychological integrity, given that he has reportedly been subjected to torture while in detention and continues to be at risk of further abuses, and requests that Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir be provided with appropriate medical care as a matter of urgency, given both his health condition and the damaged caused by the alleged torture to which he has been subjected. OMCT condemns the arbitrary detention of Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, which appears to have been conducted primarily for political reasons. OMCT is also concerned that the perpetrators of these violations of his rights will not be brought to justice and that Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir may not receive adequate reparation. Furthermore, OMCT is concerned at the Bangladeshi authorities’ use of arrests, torture and violations of procedural rights as a means of repressing political opposition.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Bangladesh urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir;
ii. order Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir’s immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges or, if such charges exist, bring him before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee his procedural rights at all times;
iii. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the reports of the alleged ill-treatment and torture to which Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir has been subjected, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
iv. guarantee adequate reparation to Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir;
v. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

· Honourable Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Prime Minister’s Office, Old Parliament House, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fax: 0088 / 02 8113244, 811015, 8113243, e-mail : ps1@pmo.bdonline.com
· Mr. Morshed Khan, Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Segun Bagicha, Dhaka, Fax: 0088 / 02 / 8617448, 0088 / 02 / 9562163, e-mail : pspmo@bangla.net
· Mr Alhaj Altaf Hossain Chowdury, Minister of Home Affairs, Government of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh. Fax: 0088 / 02 / 8619667

Please also write to the embassies of Bangladesh in your respective country.

Geneva, April 9th, 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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