Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

Bangladesh – Execution during Covid-Pandemic

Bangladesh Hangs Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Killer Abdul Majed on Sunday(12/4/2020) during the Covid pandemic – see news report below.

Capital punishment in South Asia amidst Covid-19

Professor Pritam Singh

April 12, 2020

The three major South Asian countries – India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – may pretend to be very different from each other or might even have some geo-political tensions between them but all three share one obnoxious cultural and social similarity that there is almost a public consensus in the three countries on having capital punishment or death penalty for some crimes in their legal systems.

Last month, four men who were found guilty of the horrific rape crime in Delhi in 2012 were hanged to death in a Delhi prison. It has been recently reported that in Bangladesh, the President of the country has rejected the mercy plea of Abdul Majed who has been sentenced to death for his involvement in a military coup in 1975 in which Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the founder of Bangladesh, was assassinated. With this last hurdle removed for his hanging, Mr Majed is likely to be executed very soon.

Given the widespread cultural acceptance of the death penalty in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, raising objection to capital punishment may seem unacceptable but with the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 when human beings are being killed in thousands all over the world, it is worth considering whether these legal killings have any meaning. Should human beings be killing other human beings whether through wars, border conflicts, terrorist actions, ‘encounter’ killings, sectarian massacres, armed insurgencies and counterinsurgencies, lynchings or death penalties when the whole of humanity is collectively under threat from this terrible virus? All these different forms of human beings killing other human beings seem to lose all significance in the context of the coronavirus threat.

Those who favour retention of death penalty consider that this acts as a deterrence against heinous crimes. Bringing a legal change as was done in India after that horrific rape in 2012 to make the rape crime punishable by capital punishment has not acted as a deterrence against rape crime in India. According to one estimate, women are still raped in India at the rate of one every twenty minutes. The historical experience from all over the world shows that capital punishment has nowhere acted as a deterrence against any activity which is made punishable by the death penalty. It does not make any difference whether the execution takes place through hanging as done in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh or a lethal injection in jail as one of the methods used in the US or beheading in Saudi Arabia, to take a few examples.

Life imprisonment is a better course of action than the death penalty for those rare crimes for which capital punishment still exists in the legal system. Life imprisonment keeps the possibility open for repentance by the guilty and perhaps to gain better understanding of the nature of their crime. This may result in developing more informed ways to deal with that crime. There are examples in history where hardened criminals during their incarceration repent for what they have done and go through total transformation. Capital punishment puts an end to this possibility. Jailing for life allows the possibility for reformation.

It is also worth keeping in mind that there are examples where it emerges after the execution that the person executed did not deserve to be executed. The recent ongoing revelations about the activities of the Kashmir police official Davinder Singh raise serious doubts about whether Afzal Guru, who was executed in 2013 really was guilty of what he was accused of. There have been doubts also about whether Kehar Singh’s role in Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 by her security guards Beant Singh and Satwant Singh was such that it deserved the death penalty.

Execution is an irreversible act. Life imprisonment opens the possibility of reversing the judgement if later evidence is found that the basis of the earlier judgement was flawed. There is the famous Birmingham Six case in the UK where six men, all Roman Catholics from Northern Ireland, were sentenced in 1975 to life imprisonment for what was claimed by the prosecution as their participation in Birmingham pub bombings in 1974 which had resulted in 21 deaths. The prosecution had claimed that the bombings by the six men were organised by the Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary organisation that had been carrying an armed campaign to end British rule in Northern Ireland and to unite both parts of Ireland to create a united independent Ireland. The Court of Appeal in 1991 quashed their conviction and all six were set free. Had they been executed in 1975 instead of imprisoning them, a terrible act of injustice would have taken place. The six men were later awarded compensation ranging from £840,000 to £1.2 million for all the suffering they had gone through for having been falsely implicated and imprisoned for 17 years.

Another consideration, apart from the fact that capital punishment has never acted as a deterrence for acts such as rape and murder, is the effect on those who have to administer it. In this context, a friend of mine has brought to my notice the work of the famous British barrister, novelist and playwright John Mortimer. Mortimer had acquired special fame in dealing with divorce cases and he recalled one case he had dealt with in which it came to light that the male party, whose sexual predilections were unspeakably gross, was a part-time hangman. Mortimer reflecting on this case had remarked that if the system of capital punishment relied on monsters like that administering it, there must be something wrong with the system. John Mortimer was a lifelong opponent of capital punishment. Apart from the hangmen, all others who are involved in the act of execution suffer everlasting psychological damages with harmful and multiplier implications for everyone in their lives.

The death sentence leads to complacency in society by cloaking over the underlying responsibilities that society has for dealing with the causes that lead to serious crimes.

According to Amnesty International, which campaigns worldwide for abolishing the death penalty, at the end of 2018, 106 countries had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes, and 142 countries constituting more than two-thirds of all the countries in the world, had abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Of the 56 countries that still retain the death penalty law, an overwhelming majority are from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Among the developed countries, only USA and Japan have the death penalty, and even there the public opinion is moving in the direction of opposition to death penalty. It is time that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh also move in this direction of doing away with the death penalty. As we are passing through an exceptional period of loss of lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, the heightened importance of saving lives and not ending them may trigger a cultural change in these three South Asian countries in favour of abolishing the death penalty law.

The writer is Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford, UK.

Those who favour retention of death penalty consider that this acts as a deterrence against heinous crimes. – The Nation, 12/4/2020

Bangladesh Hangs Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Killer Abdul Majed Who Was Captured After Hiding In Kolkata For 23 Years

Bangladesh Hangs Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Killer Abdul Majed Who Was Captured After Hiding In Kolkata For 23 Years   

Campus24live dot com 

Abdul Majed, a sacked army captain and one of the convicted killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first president of Bangladesh, has been executed at the Dhaka Central Jail, Dhaka Tribune reported.

“The convict was hanged at 12:01am Sunday,” Inspector General (Prisons) Brigadier General AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha said. He added that other concerned officials including a magistrate, police representatives witnessed the execution as required by the law.

This was the first case of the execution since Dhaka Central Jail was relocated in Keraniganj.

Earlier on Thursday, President Abdul Hamid rejected Majed’s petition for presidential clemency, filed by the convict’s lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kajol on April 8.

On Friday, some family members of Abdul Majed were permitted to meet him at Dhaka Central Jail where he had been kept in solitary confinement on death row.

Majed’s remains are said to have been buried at his in-law’s family graveyard in Sonargaon.

According to a local report, defying the coronavirus lockdown, a number of people emerged in front of the jail at midnight.

Majed was sent to the jail hours after he was arrested in Dhaka on Tuesday (Apr 7).

“Majed said he arrived in the country on March 15 or 16 from Kolkata. He claimed that he was hiding there for about 23 years,” The Daily Star quoted Hemayet Uddin Khan, assistant public prosecutor as sating.

Majed was one of the six remaining fugitive killers of Bangabandhu believed to be hiding abroad with no confirmed whereabouts.

Majed served in Bangladesh Embassy in Senegal. He retired from Bangladesh Army in 1980 and joined the civil administration as a Deputy Secretary. He worked at the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation, Ministry of Youth and Sports as the director of youth development and also in the National Savings Directorate.

Majed disappeared in 1997 after Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was voted Prime Minister of Banglades. In 1998, he was sentenced to death on the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman case by a trial court.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and almost his entire family were killed during the early hours of 15 August 1975, when a group of Bangladesh Army officers went into his residence and assassinated Sheikh Mujib as part of a coup.

The assassination conspirators could not be tried in a court of law because of the Indemnity Act passed by the government under President Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad. But act was removed when Awami League stormed back to power in 1996 paving away for the criminal trial of assassins.

In 1998, a Dhaka court ordered the death sentence by firing squad to fifteen out of the twenty accused of conspiring in the assassination.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on November 19, 2009 upheld the death penalty of 12 convicted ex-army officers for the assassination.

Five of the convicts – Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, and Mohiuddin Ahmed – were hanged on January 27, 2010. Another convict, Aziz Pasha, met a natural death in Zimbabwe in 2001. – Swarajya, 13/4/2020

Bangladesh – Death Penalty and Human Rights

Death penalty and human rights

  1. The provision of the death penalty remains in various criminal laws of Bangladesh. A large number of accused are being sentenced to death each year in the lower courts.
  2. The accused, who were sentenced to death, were kept in a condemned cell (in solitary confinement) for many years and, fearful of being executed at any time, they become mentally and physically ill. Generally, the accused are forced to make confessional statements through torture during police remand[1] and based on such statements, the court passes the maximum punishment to the accused. If the maximum punishment for a crime is the death sentence, the government can use the judicial system to imprison any person it dislikes for a long time.


On 3 July 2019, Rostam Ali, judge of the Additional District and Sessions Judge Court in Pabna, sentenced nine people to death in connection with the incident of bombing and shooting on a train carrying the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in Ishwardi under Pabna District in 1994. All those awarded the death penalty were leaders and activists of the opposition BNP and its affiliated organisations Jubo Dal and Chhatra Dal.[2]


As of 30 June 2019, 1,467 Death Reference cases from different jails of the country were pending in the High Court Division and 237 cases were pending in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.[3]


  1. As per Odhikar’s record, 327 persons were given to death penalty in 2019. Furthermore, two persons were executed in 2019.


Figure 4

DP Bangladesh 2019

On 3 March 2019, one person named Saiful Islam Mamun was executed for killing Saudi Arabian Diplomat Khalaf Al Ali, in Dhaka. The death sentence of a man named Chand Mia alias Chandu was executed in Kashimpur Central Jail in Gazipur on 24 July 2019, for the murder of two persons – Amir Abdullah Hasan and Sentu Mia in Keraniganj under Dhaka District in 2002.[4]


To read full report, please see the below link:


[1] On 15 April 2014, Mohammad Azam filed a case accusing unknown persons at Hazaribagh Police Station in Dhaka, of abducting his minor son Abu Sayed. Later the case was handed over to the Detective Branch (DB) of Police. Sub Inspector of DB Police Ruhul Amin, arrested Afzal, Saiful, Sonia and Shahin Raji of Mehendiganj under Barishal District. The DB Police allegedly tortured them and forced them to confess to the court. Saiful alleged that the DB Police blindfolded and beat them and kicked them after throwing them to the ground. Later, they told the court, as per instructions of the DB Police, that they had killed Abu Sayed by throwing him in the river from a launch traveling to Barishal. In this case, they were imprisoned for several years and subsequently released on bail. However, on 29 August 2019, Afzal came to Senior Assistant Commissioner SM Shamim of the Pallabi Zone of Dhaka Metropolitan Police and told him that Abu Sayeed was alive and he was staying with his parents ( On 30 August, Sonia filed a case accusing seven persons for the alleged kidnapping and plotting of a false murder. Police arrested four persons, including Abu Sayeed and his father Mohammad Azam and mother Moinur Begum (

[2] The daily Jugantor, 4 July 2019;

[3] The daily Prothom Alo, 12 July 2019;

[4] The daily Jugantor, 25 July 2019;

To read full report, please see the below link:

Source: Odhikar 2019 Human Rights Report.

Odhikar is a member of ADPAN


Bangladesh -Death Penalty for Non-Violent Drug Offences law comes into force

Bangladesh to Begin Hanging People for Non-Violent Drug Offences

Source: Flickr

People in Bangladesh now face execution for a range of non-violent drug offences.

The Narcotics Control Act 2018, which came into effect on 27 December, mandates either the death penalty or life imprisonment for anyone convicted of committing a range of drug offences. Such crimes include trading or producing over 25 grams of heroin or cocaine, and trading or producing over 200 grams of methamphetamine (colloquially known as “yaba”), Dhaka Tribune reports. Trading or producing less than 200 grams of methamphetamine, or less than 25 grams of cocaine or heroin, will now be punished by between two and 10 years imprisonment.

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, “when any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.

According to Harm Reduction International, the last known death sentence for a drug offence in Bangladesh was in 2009. That now looks set to change.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan claims that such strict punishments are necessary to dissuade people from drug use; “This youth society loses their ability to work, service attitude, and creativity, due to drug addiction and they become a burden for the nation in the process”. He added that the implementation of the new law meant that “We’ll surely succeed in controlling drugs”.

The movement towards implementing capital punishment for drug offences in Bangladesh began in 2017, following an apparent rise in methamphetamine use, and increasingly heated political discussions on the subject. As TalkingDrugs reported, the country’s Department of Narcotic Control warned that the country “[needed] to do something drastic without any delay to come out from this evil situation. Otherwise, the whole nation may immediately start suffering so much [that it] will go beyond recovery and repair”.

In the interim period, between officials voicing their desire for the death penalty and the law coming into effect, authorities seemingly began their own illegal and deadly drug war – bearing similarities to the ongoing slaughter under President Duterte in the Philippines. Hundreds of people have been killed by law enforcement in 2018 for alleged involvement with the drug trade. Authorities have claimed that all those killed were shot to death in exchanges of gunfire, but human rights groups and some witnesses claim people are being executed – some for political reasons or personal vendettas entirely unrelated to drugs.

Khan has warned that “this war will continue until we bring [drugs] under complete control”. He denounced those killed as “not good people”, and said there was “no question” that they all sold illegal drugs.

The lack of evidence and oversight in these killings suggests that the state may continue to execute people under the new drug law without sufficient proof of guilt.

Executing people for drug offences is a violation of international law. Article 6.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reads: “In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”. In 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recognised that “’the most serious crimes’ … has been interpreted to mean only crimes involving intentional killing”.

Including Bangladesh, there are 33 countries – including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the US – which retain the death penalty for drug offences. – Talking Drugs, 27/12/2018

Revised narcotics control law gets tough with drug traders

  •  Published at 01:30 am December 21st, 2018
RAB detains suspects during an anti-drug drive in Dhaka’s Geneva Camp on Saturday Mehedi Hasan

File photo: RAB detains suspects during an anti-drug drive in Dhaka’s Geneva Camp Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune


Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said drug traders used to get released from jail taking advantage of loopholes in the previous law. The amended law contains no such loopholes


The newly amended law in the Narcotics Control Act 2018 imposes the death penalty or life term imprisonment on drug traders, restricting their release from punishment for such crimes.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said drug traders used to get released from jail taking advantage of loopholes in the previous law. The amended law contains no such loopholes.

He said this at a workshop on the review of different aspects for enforcing the amended Narcotics Control Act 2018, at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) in Segunbagicha of Dhaka on Thursday, reports UNB.

“We’ve already achieved enough success in preventing militancy and terrorism. We’ll surely succeed in controlling drugs, Inshallah,” the home minister said.

On October 27, the Narcotics Control Bill was passed in Parliament with a provision of either death sentence or life-term imprisonment as punishment for producing, trading, and using 200 grams or more of yaba, or more than 25 grams of heroin and cocaine.

According to the new law, the punishment for transporting, trading, storing, producing, processing, applying, and using 200 grams of yaba, or its principal ingredient amphetamine, is death penalty or life-term imprisonment.

Yaba and amphetamines were included in the list of Category A narcotics in the new law, even though they are not there in the existing Narcotics Control Act of 1990.

The new law will come into effect on December 27.

The home minister said they formulated the new law bringing necessary amendments to the Narcotics Control Act 1990. All departments concerned, including law enforcement agencies and the DNC, can work jointly from December 27 as per the new law.

Describing young people as the country’s assets, he said drugs stand in the way of millions of young educated youths to change the country. “This youth society loses their ability to work, service attitude, and creativity, due to drug addiction and they become a burden for the nation in the process.”

Asaduzzaman said drugs like yaba are poisoning society and families, affecting people from all classes. “The use of yaba has seen a rise at all levels — from poor  day-labourers, students of schools, colleges and universities, to the rich.”

He said godfathers of yaba peddling will be punished under the Money Laundering Act while the DNC can take action under the new law, in case any new drug emerges.

Security Services Division Secretary under the Home Ministry, Farid Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, and DNC Director General, Md Jamal Uddin Ahmed, also addressed the program. – Dhaka Tribune, 21/12/2018

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