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: http://odhikar.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Annual-HR-Report-2019_Eng.pdf

 

[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 (https://www.jugantor.com/todays-paper/first-page/215370/). 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 (https://www.jugantor.com/todays-paper/last-page/215746/).

[2] The daily Jugantor, 4 July 2019; https://www.jugantor.com/todays-paper/first-page/194999/

[3] The daily Prothom Alo, 12 July 2019; https://www.prothomalo.com/bangladesh/article/1603790/

[4] The daily Jugantor, 25 July 2019; https://www.jugantor.com/national/203019/

To read full report, please see the below link: http://odhikar.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Annual-HR-Report-2019_Eng.pdf

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

Bangladesh – 25,000 Arbitrary Detention, 200 Extrajudicial Killing since May 2018? Now, new death penalty law for drugs?

Since May, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina revamped her government’s war on drugs, an estimated 25,000 people have been arbitrarily imprisoned, and at least 200 have died in alleged shootouts.

Bangladesh’s arbitrary actions, including about 200 extrajudicial and ‘questionable’ killings all allegedly in the name of ‘war on drugs’ since May 2018 is condemned. Now, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Cabinet moves to table a Bill that impose the death penalty for drug offences …

Bangladesh to impose death penalty on drug dealers with an eye on the December election

The government plans tighter controls on drug trafficking. New bill seeks to stop the sale of ‘ya ba’, the mad drug. The real goal is to ensure the outgoing government’s victory in next December’s elections. Since mid-May more than 200 people have been killed in “encounter” with the police.

 

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved a draft law last Monday imposing the death penalty for drug offences. The official goal is to stop drug use and be tough on methamphetamine dealers.

Since mid-May, more than 200 people have been shot in the crackdown. Local sources expressed concern to AsiaNewsthat dealers and drug traffickers may be treated summarily.

Drug dealers “have died in what the authorities call ‘encounters’ with the police. Those who speak the truth, that these are real shootings, are accused of spreading false information. Police are rough and arrogant. People who have nothing to do with drugs are often involved in roundups.”

“Behind tougher controls, there is probably an attempt to protect the government ahead of the upcoming December elections.”

Human rights groups have criticised the government, comparing its actions to those of another Asian country, namely thePhilippines under Rodrigo Duterte, who is carrying out a brutal campaign against drug dealers.

Officially, the fight against drugs is designed to curb the sale of “ya ba”, a low-cost drug that combines methamphetamine and caffeine. Known as the mad drug, its causes hallucinations, euphoria, aggression and addiction.

Approximately 40 million pills were seized last year, but it is estimated that 250-300 million tablets are available on the Bangladesh market. The current maximum penalty for possession is 15 years in prison.

Local sources are amazed at the sheer numbers and report that “in the past, we never even heard about drugs. Now it seems that drugs have become the most urgent problem in the country.”

According to experts, the authorities should be more cautious in enforcing the law. For many, the real goal is to control the political debate ahead of the elections. As evidence of this, they cite the police Modus Operandi.

“Increasingly, false complaints are filed. When an opposition politician organises a rally, police prepare false charges of assault, arson, threats or possession of illegal weapons against a list of 25 real people, plus 200 unknowns. Some of these are abroad; others are home-bound paraplegics. This gets into the press. What is ridiculous is that these stories are printed even when rallies are not held.” – Asia News, 12/10/2018

 

bangladesh drug warRehman Asad/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

Bangladesh’s Deadly War on Drugs

While the death penalty for drugs has existed in Bangladesh for decades, it has rarely been used. This could change dramatically if Parliament approves a government bill that could subject people who use drugs and low-level dealers to the ultimate punishment.

LONDON – The audio quality is poor and the sound of gunshots muffled, but the agony in Ekramul Haque’s voice is unmistakable. On May 26, while speaking with his family by phone, Haque, an elected official in southern Bangladesh, was gunned down by police in an apparent extrajudicial killing.

Bangladeshi authorities insist Haque was a drug dealer who died in an exchange of gunfire, but the audio evidence – captured by his wife as she listened to her husband die – suggests that the officers involved killed him and then planted drugs at the scene. The recording casts a disturbing light on Bangladesh’s new drug-control strategy.

Since May, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina revamped her government’s war on drugs, an estimated 25,000 people have been arbitrarily imprisoned, and at least 200 have died in alleged shootouts. The parallels to President Rodrigo Duterte’sbrutal drug crackdown in the Philippines are chilling. There, human rights are routinely violated and more than 20,000 peoplehave been slaughtered since 2016. While Duterte’s campaign has drawn international condemnation, Hasina’s purge has been subject to less scrutiny.

The relative lack of international criticism seems to have emboldened the government to act even more ruthlessly. In early October, the authorities doubled down by proposing a draft law, which has now been submitted to Parliament, to expand the use of capital punishment for drug offenses. Under the proposal, possession of more than five grams of “yaba” – a methamphetamine-based drug targeted by the government’s crackdown – could be punishable by death.

While the death penalty for drugs has existed in Bangladesh for decades, it hasrarely been used. This could change dramatically if Parliament approves the government’s bill. The ferocity of the authorities’ anti-drug campaign, together with the extremely low threshold for yaba possession, means that even people who use drugs and low-level dealers could face execution.

Despite what governments claim, the death penalty for drug offenses does not target kingpins. It is the poor and the most vulnerable who suffer. This would certainly be the case in Bangladesh, where some Rohingya refugees – who have fled horrific persecution in neighboring Myanmar – rely on the drug trade for economic survival.

Moreover, there is simply no evidence that the death penalty for drug use lowers rates of consumption or trafficking. Almost 4,000 people have been executed for drug offenses in the past decade, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime admits that the drug market is still booming. Death penalty laws are little more than grotesque grandstanding by governments seeking to appear “tough” on drugs while blindly ignoring the facts.

Bangladesh’s legislation move would move the country to the extreme fringe of the international community and buck the global trend toward abolishing capital punishment. According to Harm Reduction International’s research, of the 33 countries that retain the death penalty for drug offenses, only a handful – mainly Saudi Arabia and China – actually carry out executions. Most other countries have changed tack.

For example, drug-related executions in Iran fell dramatically after judicial reforms late last year (although the country still applies the death penalty for other offenses). Meanwhile, Malaysia’s cabinet is considering a bill to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. If it passes, the measure would commute the sentences of the 1,267 people currently on death row in the country, including 900 convicted of drug-related crimes.

Unfortunately, Bangladesh is not alone in favoring extreme measures. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena recently said that his country would end a 42-year moratorium on executions and begin killing people convicted of drug crimes. While it is unclear if Sirisena will follow through, his threat is part of a worrying trend among populists who view the death penalty as a panacea for the drug trade. In a rambling speech earlier this year, US President Donald Trump suggested that he, too, supports such a policy.

The European Union has urged Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to reconsider their strategies, arguing that “the death penalty doesn’t act as a deterrent to crime, and any error of judgment is impossible to correct.” These are wise words, and countries everywhere – especially EU member states – must do more to reinforce this view.

Bangladesh’s Parliament still has an opportunity to reject the draft law and move the country toward a more effective drug-control policy. Enacting the death penalty would only exacerbate an already deteriorating human-rights situation. Around the world, countries are recognizing that executions, much less extrajudicial killings, have no effect on the drug trade. Bangladesh must recognize this, too.