Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Urges Government to Form Independent and Neutral Commission for the Investigation of Allegations of Enforced Disappearances

30 August is the International Day for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.[1]

On the eve of this Day, ASK continues its demand towards the Government of Bangladesh to find out all the disappeared people immediately, and conduct thorough, fair, independent and proper investigation of each of the incidents of disappearance, and promptly undertake punitive measures against those who are involved in such acts and ensure justice for the disappeared person and his/her family. ASK further urges the Government to provide necessary reparation to the victims of enforced disappearance and ensure proper rehabilitation for them.

For the last few years, the incidences of enforced disappearances have created grave concern, fear and serious insecurity among the people of the country. According to the information collected from various media sources by ASK, from January 2014 to July 2019, as many as 344 people have fallen victims to enforced disappearances as has been alleged by their relatives and families. Of them, 60 were shown arrested by the police later on, 35 returned home whereas 44 dead bodies have been recovered. In most of the cases, families, relatives and witnesses alleged that the victims were picked up by law enforcers.

It is unfortunate that the Government continues to claim that no enforced disappearances take place in Bangladesh; and rather claims such incidents to be private kidnapping, not disappearances by the public officials or law enforcement agencies. Although the government refuses to acknowledge such instances of disappearance, victims’ family members and witnesses of enforced disappearance continue to claim that their family members were picked up by people with law enforcement agencies identity.

Since 2009 the current Government declared a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against all such human rights violations by law enforcement agencies. However, a decade down the line, such a commitment is not reflected in the realities that the people of Bangladesh are facing.

During the 67th Review Session of Bangladesh by the Committee Against Torture on its progress on the implementation of Convention against Torture, the Committee expressed its regrets of the unavailability and lack of information Bangladesh provided on any investigation being conducted regarding the allegations of enforced disappearance, where the victims may have been held in unacknowledged detention by law enforcement agencies. Although the State’s asserted otherwise, the Committee emphasised that such conduct is defined as enforced disappearance in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, irrespective of whether or not the victim is found dead or reappears later.

Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) strongly demands the government to acknowledge the reality of enforced disappearances in Bangladesh and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and promptly and thoroughly investigate all incidents of disappearance and ensure due process of law. It further urges the government to punish the perpetrators with penalties proportionate to the gravity of the offence.

[1.] The United Nations (UN) adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) in 2006 to provide protection from such incidences and the Convention entered into force in 2010. In this Convention, widespread enforced disappearance committed in an organized way has been declared as a ‘crime against humanity’. Moreover, to create awareness and sensitivity,the Convention declared 30 August as the International Day of Enforced Disappearance to draw attention to the victims of such occurrences.‘Enforced disappearance’ is defined in Article 2 of the Convention as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”

Press Statement (29.08.2019) Bangla