Demand for making pending bill against torture a lawStaff Correspondent
Journalists and rights activists on Saturday expressed grave concern over growing incidents of custodial deaths and torture, inhuman treatment of citizens in the hands of law-enforcers and demanded immediate passage of a private members’ bill, pending in Parliament, to address the issue.
Participants at a discussion in the city urged the stakeholders to create public awareness on the need to pass the bill pending in Parliament since 2009.
The session on ‘Education on the Convention against Torture and Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment awareness programme was chaired by Rights’ Organisation, Odhikar’s adviser Farhad Majhar.
Among the discussants were, Manabzamin editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, Amader Shomoy editor Nayeemul Islam Khan, Amardesh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman, Samakal managing editor Abu Sayeed Khan, Daily Independent online editor Golam Tahaboor, Prothom Alo associate editor Mizanur Rahman Khan and freelance journalist Tanvir A Chowdhury.
Odhikar organisation secretary Adilur Rahman Khan moderated the discussion held at a restaurant.
The participants urged the government to adopt the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading the Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).
Though the government signed the Convention Against Torture in October 1998, it was yet to adopt the OPCAT.
Though recommended by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions to pass with amendments, a bill introduced in parliament on September 10, 2009, by ruling Awami League lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury to prohibit torture and custodial deaths was yet to be passed.
The Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Bill proposed enactment of a law against torture, and cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the hands of law enforcement agencies or government officials.
Punishments proposed include, life-terms and suspension from service during investigation of charges against offenders, regardless of whether the offender is a member of regular law enforcement agencies or the armed forces, or of any public office.
If the bill becomes a law, officials charged with the offences would not be able to justify their actions citing exceptional circumstances whatsoever including law and order situations, political instability, the state of emergency, and that such actions were taken on orders from superior officers or public authorities.
The bill proposed the completion of the trial of an offence punishable under it within six months form the date of filing of the charge sheet against the accused, while the investigation of an offence must be completed within seven months from the date of recording the first complaint.
Saber said that the law was needed to uphold the constitutional stipulations that guarantee the citizens’ protection.
Since Bangladesh signed the international convention against torture on December 10, 1998, the country needs to have a law to protect its citizens from inhuman torture, said Saber.
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