Probe Bangladeshi force for executions: rights body

New York : Bangladesh should set up an independent body to investigate evidence that the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was responsible for extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and other serious abuses over many years, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

Following the abduction and apparent contract killings of seven people by members of RAB and other security forces in Narayangunj district May 2, state minister for home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan announced that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had ordered law enforcement agencies to ensure that all those responsible were found and punished.

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The high court, acting on its own motion, directed that any investigation into the killings be conducted by a specially constituted body independent of the security forces, and issued an arrest warrant against three RAB officers to be tried before civilian courts.

“After years of refusing to investigate RAB, the government has changed course and reacted quickly to the Narayangunj murders,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in an open letter to Hasina.

“This is welcome and hopefully marks a shift away from years of impunity for RAB and other security forces. The prime minister must now broaden the probe and create an independent process to ensure accountability for all cases, not just Narayangunj.”

Human Rights Watch has long documented RAB responsibility for extrajudicial killings and torture.

Most recently, Human Rights Watch documented the deaths of 11 opposition activists before, during and after the Jan 5 national elections.