June 28, 2022
DHAKA – Even though there is a law allowing victims of custodial torture to prosecute their torturers, it lies unused. That is how normalised physical violence and torture have become as part of the investigation and interrogation processes, speakers said yesterday.
“Interrogation does not mean there is a need for physical violence,” said senior lawyer ZI Khan Panna, speaking at a discussion organised by Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
Police investigations in the country are completely based on extracting confessions from the accused, while circumstantial evidence is not taken into account, said advocate Jibananda Jayanta.
As a result, physical violence and torture is used while getting these confessional statements.
Even though the Torture and Custodial Death Prevention Act exists, the victims routinely face challenges when filing cases, with the police choosing to file such cases under the penal code instead, the speakers said
The custodial torture prevention act is a stricter law with life imprisonment being the highest punishment that could be awarded to errant law enforcers.
Even though it has nearly been a decade since the law was enacted, only 24 cases have been tracked as having been filed.
On the other hand, Ain o Salish Kendra’s statistics show that just in the past two years, 28 people were killed by torture in custody. Five of them were killed this year alone.
Torture survivor Limon Hossain, who was shot in the foot by Rab when he was just 16 years old, spoke about how it has been over 10 years and yet the investigation into his torture case has not yet been completed.
“I was shot in 2011, after which I lost my leg. The deputy commissioner’s office in Jhalakathi had initiated an investigation but the report is yet to see the light of day,” he said.
Speakers questioned why the investigation reports in custodial death cases are never made public.
Imtiaz Hossain Rocky, another torture survivor, spoke about how families have to undergo harassment during the investigation and trial processes.
“The whole family becomes the victim.”
In 2014, Rocky lost his brother at the hands of the Pallabi police.
Kazi Zahid Iqbal, a Supreme Court lawyer, said even the constitution cannot stop torture as long as loopholes are used to abuse laws.
SM Rezaul Karin, legal adviser of BLAST, Nur Khan Liton, human rights activist, and Advocate Ainun Nahar Siddiqua also spoke at the event held at the Bishwa Shahitya Kendra.