Thousands detained without charges in Bangladesh


Dhaka : Nearly half of the 220,000 people detained in Bangladesh since the imposition of a national emergency were caught without any specific charges, the interim government has admitted.

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This was revealed when Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Advisor Mainul Hosein asked law enforcing agencies to "stop the spree of preventive detentions on the plea of fighting crime and corruption", the New Age reported Monday.

He cautioned the officials concerned against harassing common people during the anti-crime drive, which the security forces led by the army began in January across the country.

A total of 220,178 people have been detained as of May. According to media reports, jails across Bangladesh are choked with prisoners, taking in three to four times more than their capacity.

Police and jail officials have expressed helplessness at the sub-human conditions in the jails that are now affecting the prisoners' health.

"We have asked the law enforcing agencies to ensure that the law is not misused under the state of emergency," the law adviser said.

The government has also admitted to shortage of investigators and has sought help from the US for training.

Home ministry statistics reveal that a total of 18,985 people were arrested in April and 19,542 in May either on suspicion or under the Section 54 of the Code of Criminal of Procedure and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Act.

The current drive against crime and corruption was launched after an emergency was declared and the Jan 22 elections were called off.

The detainees have included former ministers, lawmakers and known businessmen. Former prime minister Khaleda Zia's politician son Tareeq Rahman was also arrested over extortion charges.