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.

ADPAN – Urgent Appeal call by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders on the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan by Malaysia

See earlier related post:-

MALAYSIA – ADPAN Executive Committee Member, Adilur Rahman Khan, detained by Immigration at KLIA Airport

Malaysia: Arbitrary arrest of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan

20/07/2017
Urgent Appeal

Human Rights Defenders
  • Malaysia

MYS 001 / 0717 / OBS 083
Arbitrary arrest /Harassment
Malaysia

 
July 20, 2017

 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.

 

Brief description of the information:

 

The Observatory has been informed with great concern about the arbitrary arrest in Kuala Lumpur of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of the human rights non-governmental organisation [1], also a member of OMCT General Assembly and FIDH Vice-President.

 

According to the information received, on July 20, 2017, at about 4.00 am, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was detained by immigration officers upon his arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. No reason was given for his detention.

 

Mr. Rahman Khan was travelling to Malaysia to attend the National Conference on Death Penalty organised by the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) from July 21 to 22, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur.

 

The Observatory strongly condemns Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan’s arbitrary arrest, and calls upon the Malaysian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally, as well as to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity.

 

Actions requested:

 

Please write to the authorities in Malaysia, urging them to:

 

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, as well as of all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

 

ii. Release Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

 

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan as well as all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

 

iv. Ensure in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Malaysia are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

 

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;

 

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Malaysia.

 

Addresses:

· Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Fax: +60 3 8888 3444, Email: ppm@pmo.gov.my

· Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs of Malaysia, Fax: +60 3 8889 1613 / +60 3 8889 1610, Email: ahmadzahid@moha.gov.my
 

· Attorney General of Malaysia, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, Fax: +603 8890 5670 Email: pro@agc.gov.my
 

· Tan Sri Razali Bin Ismail, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Fax: +60 3 2612 5620, Email: humanrights@suhakam.org.my;

· H.E. Mr. Amran Mohamed Zin, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 75 01, Email: malgeneva@kln.gov.my

· Embassy of Malaysia in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 762 50 49, Email: malbrussels@kln.gov.my

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Malaysia in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Malaysia.

***
Geneva-Paris, July 20, 2017

 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

MALAYSIA – ADPAN Executive Committee Member, Adilur Rahman Khan, detained by Immigration at KLIA Airport

Adilur Rahman Khan from Odhikar, a member of the ADPAN, was detained at the Kuala Lumpur Internationbal Airport(KLIA) by the Malaysian Immigration and prevented entry (he is still being detained at this time). He was supposed to be attending the General Assembly of ADPAN today(20/7/2017), and Malaysian National Conference on 21-22 July. At the ADPAN General Assembly, Adilur Rahman Khan, was succesfully voted into the Executive Committee of ADPAN for the 2017-2019 term.

adpan adilur statementcropped-adpan-national-conference-poster1.jpg

Bangladesh human rights activist detained at KLIA

| July 20, 2017

Suaram condemns arrest of Adilur Rahman Khan who arrived this morning to attend a conference in Kuala Lumpur on the abolition of the death penalty.

PETALING JAYA: The arrest of a Bangladeshi human rights activist at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) this morning has been condemned by a local rights group.

Adilur Rahman Khan was detained by immigration officers at KLIA at about 4am today. Khan is the secretary of Odhikar, a human rights NGO based in Bangladesh.

He had travelled to Malaysia to attend a conference on the topic of “Abolition of the death penalty”.

“Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) condemns the detention of Adilur Rahman Khan.

“As of 10am, no reason has been given by immigration officers as to why he was detained. However, Suaram was informed that Khan has now been moved to the immigration lock-up,” Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said in a statement.

The NGO urged the authority to release Khan and called for an end to the “persistent harassment against human rights defenders visiting Malaysia”.

This is the latest action taken against foreign human rights activists by the Malaysian government.

Earlier this month, Amnesty International (AI) said it was concerned over the barring of Singapore human rights defender Han Hui Hui from entering Malaysia last month.

Han had been blocked from entering the country after having been labelled an “undesirable immigrant” by the home minister.

“AI notes that this is not the first time the government has barred peaceful activists from entering Malaysia.

“In recent years, Hong Kong political activist Joshua Wong and Indonesian human rights defender Mugiyanto Sipin have been prevented from visiting the country, as well”. – FMT News, 20/7/2017FMT News, 20/7/2017

Immigration detained activist from Bangladesh, claims Suaram

  •    Published Today 11:40 am     Updated Today 11:53 am

The human rights group Suaram has condemned the Immigration Department for supposedly detaining a human rights activist from Bangladesh.

“Suaram calls for his immediate release and demand that the Immigration Department stop its persistent harassment against human rights defenders visiting Malaysia,” it said in a statement today.

Suaram claimed that Odhikar secretary Adilur Rahman Khan was detained at about 4am today at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and as of 10am, he was not told the reason for his detention.

He was supposed to attend a conference on the abolition of the death penalty that would take place in Kuala Lumpur this evening until Saturday.

Malaysiakini has contacted the Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali and is waiting for a response. – Malaysiakini, 20/7/2017

Malaysia detains prominent Bangladeshi rights activist Adilur Rahman Khan

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia has detained a prominent Bangladesh activist, civil groups said on Thursday (July 20), describing the government action as “harassment” against human rights defenders.

Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of the rights group Odhikar, was detained after arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport early Thursday, activists said.

He was due to speak at a two-day conference organised by the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network

Rights group Voice of the Malaysian People (Suaram) said Khan was being kept incommunicado at the airport’s immigration lock-up and appealed for his release.

“Suaram calls for his immediate release and demand that the immigration department stop its persistent harassment against human rights defenders visiting Malaysia,” it said in a statement.

Immigration authorities could not be reached for comment.

Malaysia often denies foreign pro-democracy activists entry into the country without giving explanation.

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission urged the international human rights community “to immediately intervene in this case, and secure Khan’s release from arbitrary detention”.

The commission said it was worried that the detention of Khan, his country’s former deputy attorney general, “is the result of collusion between governments in Bangladesh and Malaysia”.

In the past, Khan’s group has been critical of human rights violations allegedly committed by Bangladeshi security forces, including torture and extra judicial killings.

Malaysia has also denied Khan a lawyer and the right to speak to anyone, the group said.

In 2015, student activist Joshua Wong, who helped organise the 2014 Hong Kong protests, was denied entry by immigration authorities. – The Straits Times, 20/7/2017