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 ODHIKAR, a member of the OMCT network, that a 19-year old man known as Badal, died in detention after being subjected to torture while in police custody at the Kapasia Police Station in Gazipur District, and of the torture of a child called Johurul Islam, in Bangladesh.
According to the information received, the Sub-Inspector of the Detective Branch (DB), Azharul Islam, arbitrarily arrested 19-year old Badal, a butcher by trade, at around 2 a.m. on May 8th, 2002 at his home in Boroipara, Narayanganj, Dhaka. Two other young men from the area, known as Jahangir, and Badal Shikdar, and a 13-year old child, Johurul Islam, were also reportedly arrested. The three men (the other two of whom who were reportedly also in their late teens) and the child, had reportedly been detained in connection with a case filed under the Repression of Violence Against Women and Children Act 2000 concerning the rape and murder of a nine year old girl, Farzana Akhtar Bobby, on October 15th, 2001. The file of this case had been given to the DB for investigation, but Badal’s name was reportedly not mentioned within it.
According to the report, the young men and the child were presented before the court on the afternoon of May 9th, 2002, 24 hours after their arrest, which constitutes a procedural violation. The Inspector of the DB, Fazlul Karim explained the delay by claiming that the police was engaged in the arrest of another person on May 8th and therefore had no time to present the detainees before the magistrate. The police asked the court to allow for seven days detention in order to interrogate the detainees, but the Magistrate did not have the case file, so the hearing was not held and the men were taken to jail.
According to the report, Johurul Islam was granted bail by the court, but shortly after being released the police re-arrested him. He was held in detention for two more days, and during this time he was reportedly beaten.
According to the information received, all four detainees were held together in the same cell. There they were reportedly blindfolded, and then taken separately to be subjected to torture. Badal was reportedly severely tortured, including the use of electrocution. While in detention, the police demanded 50,000 Taka from each of the four young men. Since Badal’s family were reportedly unable to raise such funds, they were unable to provide that money. However, between the 8th and 9th of May, they reportedly gave Sub Inspector Azahrul Islam of the DB some 30,000 Taka from sold jewellery and their savings.
According to the information received, on May 17th, 2002, Badal’s condition became critical and he was transferred to the Dhaka Central Jail, for treatment by the Medical Officer of Narayanganj District Jail. That day, his conditions worsened considerably and he was taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where he died soon after being admitted to the Emergency Department. The Metropolitan Magistrate Taslima Nahid’s inquest report mentioned that Badal’s body bore only 3 injuries, that he had suffered a high fever and a headache. The Head of the Dhaka Medical College Forensic Department was dissatisfied with this report, and emphasized that Badal’s nails were blue.
According to the report, Inspector Fazlul Kabir and Investigating officer Sub Inspector Azharul Isalam have denied charges of having tortured Badal. They claim that he was a drug addict, and that during detention he had been constantly asking for heroin, but since he was not given any he fell ill and died. The police superintendent of Narayanganj reportedly confirmed this. The forensic department of the Dhaka Medical College is still awaiting test results to find whether Badal was an addict or an alcoholic.
According to the report, on May 19th, 2002, Badal’s mother, Sanowara Begum, filed a case at the First Class Magistrates Court in Narayanganj, against Inspector Fazlul Kabir, Sub Inspector Azharul Islam, Sub Inspector Morshed, Constable Alamgir and Constable Shamsu Mia. The court ordered a Judicial Inquiry on this case. The Judicial Inquiry should have examined the witnesses on the May 22nd, 2002, but Sanowara Begum appeared before the court and placed an application to withdraw the case. The lawyer representing Badal’s family told Odhikar that he had no prior knowledge of this application and learnt of it at the court. He alleged that this application had been accepted in exchange for Taka 2 Lakhs (Taka 200,000) from the DB police. The family reportedly could not afford to continue with the court case, and when offered free legal aid, they said that they were afraid of the police and feared for theier lives. Public Prosecutor of the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Abdullah Mahmud Hassan, stated that there are no legal provisions allowing for the withdrawal of a murder case under the Code of Criminal Procedure, and since murder is considered as an offence against the State, it is therefore its responsibility to deal with the case. However, the Magistrate, Mohammad Ali, fixed the date for the hearing of this application before a Cognisance Court for the 27th of May, 2002, but on that date, the court had still not received any information from the magistrate and the hearing was not held.
The Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned about the torture to which Badal was subjected while in detention and his subsequent death in custody, and that Jahangir, Badal Shikdar, and in particular a 13-year old child, Johurul Islam, were also tortured while in police detention. OMCT is concerned that the perpetrators of these violations will not be brought to justice and that Badal’s family, Jahangir, Badal Shikdar, and Johurul Islam may not receive adequate reparation.
Please write to the authorities in Bangladesh urging them to:
i. ensure a thorough and impartial investigation into the reports of the alleged torture to which Badal and the aforementioned young men and child have been subjected and Badal’s subsequent death, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
ii. guarantee adequate reparation to Badal’s family and to the aforementioned young men and child ;
iii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards- notably the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in this case.
· 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 : email@example.com
· Mr. Morshed Khan, Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Segun Bagicha, Dhaka, Fax: 0088 / 02 / 8617448, 0088 / 02 / 9562163, e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
· 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, June 11th, 2002
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.