Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Caution against death in police-rab custody

Home ministry cautions lawmen against custodial death
Source: New Age
Date: January 30, 2008

The home affairs ministry on Tuesday cautioned law enforcement agencies against death in custody. Senior officials of law enforcement agencies such as the police and the Rapid Action Battalion were instructed to ensure that such incidents do not take place further, an official source said.

The directive was given at a meeting chaired by the home affairs adviser, MA Matin. The home secretary, inspector general of police, Rapid Action Battalion director general and senior officials of the agencies concerned attended the meeting. This was the first meeting of the adviser with the heads and senior officials of the law enforcement agencies after assuming the office of the home affairs ministry on January 16.

Matin, a retired army official who also heads the national coordination committee against corruption and serious crimes, issued 30-point instructions for the lawmen to go by in keeping order to hold free and fair national elections by the end of 2008. He directed the police to send to the home ministry as soon as possible the cases that could warrant speedy trial.

The adviser asked police officials to build better relations with people. He stressed the need for positive behavioural changes in policemen. One hundred and eighty-four were reportedly killed extra-judicially by the law enforcement agencies in 2007, according to a report released by human rights coalition Odhikar. The report said 130 had been killed in the ‘crossfire.’

Of them, 94 were killed by the Rapid Action Battalion, 64 by the police, 3 jointly by the battalion and the police, 7 each by the ‘joint forces’ and the army, 3 by the navy, 1 each by the jail police, coast guards, forest guards, Bangladesh Rifles and 2 by the officers of the Department of Narcotics Control. The number of extra-judicial killings in 2007 was lower than what it was in the preceding year.

The meeting asked the police and intelligence agencies to closely monitor labour unrest in readymade garments factories to keep the situation under control. It also asked the police to set up one-stop service centres at strategic points in cities to check harassment of girls and women.

Matin asked the law enforcers to conduct proper investigation into the cases related to acid throwing as the meeting observed the accused in most cases are released because of weak inquiry and lack of evidence. He also directed the traffic wing of the police to ensure that the vehicles having fake licences or without fitness clearances do not run on the city roads.

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