Bangladesh should meet global standards in dealing with BDR, says HRW
The Bangladesh government should consider to new trials that meet international standards for former Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) members who are accused of murder and munity. This will also include the 139 BDR members whose death sentences were upheld by the supreme court on November 27, 2017 – suggested Human Rights Watch on Wednesday.On February 25-26 of 2009, unruly members of BDR revolted against their Commanding Officers at the central Headquarters in Dhaka and including 57 army officers, killed 74 people. There were also reports of sexual assaults of women relatives of the officers. HRW’s research
also found that many accused were tortured in custody.Asia director at Human Rights Watch Brad Adams said that the atrocities took place mutiny needs to meet proper investigation and justice, but now through “Unfair Mass Trials” and torture, “Particularly when the death penalty is involved, expediency cannot take priority over justice”.in December 2008, soon after the Awami League government led by Sheikh Hasina won elections the BDR mutiny took place. The government under mass pressure from the Army and countrymen as well, responded to the mutiny by rounding up almost 6,000 unruly members of the BDR. While closed military courts held mass trials, a separate civilian prosecution team also followed the same procedure by trying nearly 850 members of the BDR in one courtroom.
Human Rights Watch in July 2012 released a report titled “‘The Fear Never Leaves Me’: Torture, Custodial Deaths, and Unfair Trials after the 2009 Mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles” to try help provide detailed account of the mutiny along with the authorities’ response. Serious abuses by the authorities were documented by HRW including at least 47 custodial deaths and extensive torture of BDR members by the RAB and other security forces. Although later, the government claimed that all deaths were occurred of natural causes.
Adams also said “Families of those killed and injured in the mutiny need justice and closure, but the answer is not through flawed trials”. “The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment that should never be used, Bangladesh should join the international movement to abolish it, particularly in cases like these in which suspects were tortured, nearly 50 died in custody, and due process failed” – added Adams.