Why not crossfire illegal? HC asks govt to reply in four weeks

June 30, 2009

The High Court yesterday issued a rule upon the government to show cause within four weeks as to why the extra-judicial killings ‘in the name of crossfire or encounter’ by the law enforcing agencies, should not be declared illegal and without lawful authority.
The court also asked the government to explain as to why departmental and criminal actions should not be taken against those who are responsible for extra-judicial killings ‘in the name of crossfire or encounter’. 
The government will also have to explain why departmental and criminal actions should not be taken against perpetration of such killings
The HC bench comprising Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Quamrul Islam Siddiqui issued the rule upon a writ petition filed as Public interest Litigation (PIL) by three human rights organisations– Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Karmojibi Nari (KN) challenging the legality of extra-judicial killing by the law enforcing agencies.
Additional Attorney General MK Rahman told reporters after issuance of the rule that the government had already clarified its position regarding extra-judicial killings and the government is thinking how to prevent such killings. Considering government’s awareness, the court did not issue others directives which were sought in the petition.
The petition sought courts order directing the government to form an enquiry committee to probe all extra-judicial killings and place its reports before the court within a specified time limit as fixed by the court.
The petitioners also sought HC directive to the government to provide compensation to the family members of those killed in custody and in crossfire or encounter.
After the rule the petitioners’ counsel Barrister Saifur Rashid told reporters that Articles 27, 31, 32 and 35(3) of the Constitution have guaranteed protection and security of all citizens. But, the law enforcing agencies has been violating these constitutional guaranties by resorting to extra-judicial killing ‘in the name of crossfire or encounter’.
He also said that at least 969 people were killed across the country since 2004 in custody and in crossfire or encounter by law enforcement agencies.
During the hearing Barrister Saifur Rashid submitted before the court that the law enforcement agencies resort to extra-judicial killings in the name of crossfire or encounter in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
He also submitted that the right to protection of law as has been guaranteed under Article 31 and the right to fair trial under Article 35 (3) of the Constitution are the inherent rights of every person accused of any crime, which cannot be denied by killing the accused person by the law enforcing agencies in the name of crossfire or encounter.
Barrister Saifur Rashid moved on behalf of the petitioners while Additional Attorney General MK Rahman represented the government.
bdnews24.com adds: According to rights group Odhikar, 322 people were killed during the last two years of the caretaker government led by Fakhruddin Ahmed in “crossfire”.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina herself announced in February that the extrajudicial killings perpetrated during the tenure of the military-installed interim government would be investigated.
International and local rights groups, including Amnesty International, US-based Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, Bangladesh and Odhikar, over past decades have frequently expressed concern over the rate of extra-judicial killings in the country. 
Courtesy of The Independent

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