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Human Rights Watch asks Bangladesh Prime Minister to ban Rapid Action Battalion

Monday, 21 July 2014 - 9:28am IST | Place: DHAKA | Agency: dna webdesk

Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the Bangladesh Prime Minister to disband the Rapid Action Battalion in the country. In the meantime they want an entirely civilian force, by withdrawing all military members and soldiers from the force. The RAM is an anticrime and anti terrorism unit in the Bangladesh police force. It consists of members form the police force, army, navy, air force and border guards that has been operating since 2004.  

In the past reports like "Democracy in the Crossfire" by the Human Rights Watch have documented the atrocities by the RAB. When the opposition members were protesting for boycott of elections last year, the government brutally cracked down on the protestors. HRW documents extra judicial executions, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention and arrests.

The letter quotes that the RAB has been responsible for around 800 killings in the last one decade according to independent estimates. It especially mentions the killings of seven men in Naryanganj in which three people have been already arrested. But HRW says these incidents were not one off. 

The letter says, "Madam Prime Minister, while in opposition, you committed both publicly and privately to rein in RAB and convey zero tolerance for extrajudicial killings. Even after you took office in February 2011 you admitted that extrajudicial killings remained a problem saying: “We have been trying our best to stop extrajudicial killings, which started in 2004…. I have always been against extra-judicial killing, which are continuing a long time. They cannot be stopped overnight.” However, since then, your government has failed to take action to hold RAB accountable and prevent future killings. While RAB was started by a previous administration, the killings that have happened since 2009 are the responsibility of your government to prevent, investigate, and punish. Your government has failed to do so."

HRW does not believe that the RAB can be reformed and therefore needs to be disbanded.

The key recommendations for the RAB can be found here.

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