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Bangladeshi activists condemn extrajudicial killings

Rights group and Catholic leader call on government to respect rule of law in crackdown on drug dealers

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Bangladeshi activists condemn extrajudicial killings

Policemen patrol the streets of Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in January 2015. A Dhaka-based rights group says law enforcers have carried out 437 extrajudicial killings in the past 10 months. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)

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Bangladeshi rights activists including a top church official have deplored hundreds of extrajudicial killings and dozens of enforced disappearances in the country this year.

At least 437 people were victims of extrajudicial killings in the hands of law enforcers and 26 people faced enforced disappearances from January to October, according to a report by Dhaka-based rights group Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) published on Nov. 20.

The report was based on newspaper reports of extrajudicial killings and disappearances and was prepared jointly with the National Human Rights Commission, an autonomous state body.

ASK also pointed out that among those killed were 276 victims of a Philippines-style anti-drug crackdown that started in May.

The war on drugs has drawn criticism from national and international human rights watchdogs.

"Every citizen has the right to live and to get justice in a democratic country. Government forces, at no point, should be allowed to carry out extrajudicial killings. A person should face punishment if found guilty in a court judgment," ASK executive director Sheepa Hafiza told ucanews.com.

On the day the report came out, four people were killed in police shootouts in Bangladesh, media reported.

Police said the victims were drug dealers and they died due to an internal feud among drug syndicates.

"Two died when two groups of drug dealers fired at each other. One of the dead has been implicated in a robbery case," said Prodip Kumar Das, officer in-charge of Teknaf police station in Cox's Bazar district.

Holy Cross Father Liton Hubert Gomes, secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Justice and Peace Commission, said extrajudicial killings and disappearances are immoral and unacceptable.

"Law enforcers carry out extrajudicial killings with instructions from the highest level of government. There were hundreds of drug-related killings because the government saw the drug menace was tarnishing its image, so it declared a war on drugs," he told ucanews.com.

"Every sane citizen should condemn such killings. Sadly, rights groups cannot criticize the government enough as they are under pressure due to repressive laws and policies. Right to life and justice for everyone should be respected, and criminals like drug leaders should get a chance for correction and rehabilitation."

This year, Bangladesh has passed a tough anti-narcotics law with a provision for the death penalty.

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