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Bangladeshi lawmakers propose extrajudicial execution for rape

The move to stop a crime with another crime is insane and shows the state's inability to address the issue, says a Church official

UCA News Reporters, Dhaka

UCA News Reporters, Dhaka

Published: January 16, 2020 12:11 PM GMT

Updated: January 16, 2020 12:34 PM GMT

Bangladeshi lawmakers propose extrajudicial execution for rape

This photograph taken on June 6, 2018, shows members of the Rapid Action Battalion of the Bangladesh police baton-charging secular activists for protesting against the alleged extrajudicial killings during the country's ongoing anti-drug drive, in Dhaka. (Photo: AFP)

Several members of both the ruling and opposition parties in Bangladesh demanded in parliament on Jan. 14 that the rape accused be executed by "crossfire," a local term for extrajudicial police shootouts.

The proposal caused a national uproar in the Muslim-majority nation with several groups, including the Catholic Church, dismissing it as irrational. 

“Rape is a heinous social crime, but the proposal for extrajudicial killing is insane,” said Father Liton H. Gomes, secretary of the Bangladeshi Catholic bishops' Justice and Peace Commission. He said extrajudicial killing is a crime, and proposing it “to counter a crime with another crime is stupid.” 

“It is unacceptable when people in power propose summary killings to hide their inability to tackle the root causes of rape,” Father Gomes told UCA News.

The existing law, if properly implemented, can curb rape and ensure justice, the priest said.

Mujibul Haque, a lawmaker from the opposition Jatiya Party wanted the Prevention of Women and Child Repression Act changed and the death penalty incorporated within the law.

Tofail Ahmed, a senior member of the ruling Awami League, agreed that a stricter law was needed but went further ahead.

“If we can take instant action through crossfire in the case of drug-related issues, then why can we not follow it in the case of rapists?” he reportedly asked in parliament.

Ahmed was referring to the Philippines-style anti-drug crackdown that saw hundreds of drug dealers and users shot dead by police since 2018, sparking sharp criticism at home and abroad.

More than 500 alleged drug dealers and users were killed in police shootouts in Bangladesh during anti-drug crackdowns since 2018, according to Human Rights Watch report 2019.
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Several parliamentarians supported the proposal to make the law stringent by allowing extrajudicial killings to check the increasing cases of rape.

Rape cases doubled in Bangladesh in 2019, according to local rights watchdog, Ain-O-Salish Kendra (ASK). The agency recorded 1,413 cases of rape in 2019, up from 732 cases in 2018. 

Besides, 1,005 children were raped in 2019, up from 571 cases in 2018, says Bangladesh Child Rights Forum, a national coalition of child rights groups.

The rights group ASK has condemned the proposal.

“We express grave concern and condemn” the move, it said in a Jan. 15 statement adding that extrajudicial killing is “illegal, brutal and inhuman.”

“We are aggrieved that members of the country’s highest legal body have made such a demand,” said the statement signed by its executive director Sheepa Hafiza.

Since 2013, at least 500 people have become victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Bangladesh, according to Human Rights Watch.

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