For Immediate Release
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Bangladesh Government Must Hold Fair Trials to Ensure Justice for Victims of Mutiny, Says New Amnesty International Report
Amnesty International Denounces Alleged Torture of Detainees and Calls on Authorities to Provide Fair Trials in Accordance with International Standards
WASHINGTON - The Bangladesh government
must ensure justice for the victims of the February 2009 Bangladesh Rifles
(BDR) mutiny by guaranteeing fair trials to all suspects, Amnesty International
said in a report released today.
The report, Looking for Justice: Mutineers
on trial in Bangladesh, features testimony from family members of the
BDR accused of participating in the mutiny. These accounts suggest that
dozens, possibly hundreds of BDR personnel have suffered torture while
in detention for their potential involvement. Nearly all were denied the
opportunity to hire a lawyer for weeks, in some cases even for months.
Amnesty International condemns the unlawful
killings, hostage taking and other human rights abuses committed during
the mutiny and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. The
government of Bangladesh has the opportunity to restore national and global
trust in the rule of law by making sure that the civilian courts, which
will be trying the accused, deliver justice.
"The mutiny was brutal and led to the killing
of civilians and army officers who died in horrific circumstances. It's
vital that the government of Bangladesh brings the perpetrators of these
crimes to justice in a manner that is compatible with international law,"
said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International's Bangladesh researcher.
Following the mutiny, thousands of BDR personnel
were confined to barracks and denied all contact with the outside world.
As family members began to gain access to the detainees, reports emerged
alleging that they had been subjected to human rights violations, including
torture, for possible involvement in the mutiny.
Looking for Justice documents the
methods of torture used against the suspects, including sleep deprivation,
beatings, the use of pliers to crush testicles, inserting needles under
suspect's nails and administering electric shocks.
"The reports of torture that Amnesty International
has received are consistent with the previously documented torture and
ill treatment of detainees in Bangladesh," said Faiz. "It's not good
enough for the authorities to deny that torture is taking place. There
needs to be greater accountability on this issue."
At least 20 BDR personnel died in custody
between March 9 and May 6, 2009 alone. BDR sources claim that four of them
committed suicide, seven died of heart attacks and another nine died from
diseases. By October 10, 2009, the total number of BDR personnel that died
while in custody was at 48.
Amnesty International welcomes the Supreme
Court's clarification that army courts martial have no jurisdiction to
try BDR personnel accused of mass killings and other criminal offenses
during the February 2009 mutiny.
The government must also reconsider its decision
to use Speedy Trial Tribunal because the time limit these courts impose
for the completion of the trial may lead to a miscarriage of justice.
Amnesty International urges the government
of Bangladesh to ensure that:
suspected of committing crimes must be brought to justice under internationally
recognized fair trial standards, which include the right to family visits
and access to lawyers.
allegations of torture must be investigated and the perpetrators brought
to justice in fair trials. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty
in all cases, regardless of the nature of the crime, and urges the Bangladeshi
authorities not to seek the death penalty.
government must examine the capacity of the judicial system and if necessary
seek assistance from relevant international bodies to ensure that the criminal
justice system has the competencies and resources, and that the judges
have the necessary training, to conduct the trails of such a large number
of BDR defendants in accordance with the international standards for fair
should ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and designate
or establish National Preventive Mechanisms in accordance with the Protocol.
On February 25, 2009, a large-scale mutiny
took place at the BDR headquarters in Dhaka. The event prompted fears of
an emerging BDR coup and a possible violent counter offensive by the Bangladesh
army. The mutineers killed at least 74 people, including six civilians
(three women and three men), 57 army officers seconded to work as BDR commanders,
one army soldier, and nine Jawans (lowest BDR rank). Thousands of BDR personnel
accused of these killings are now in detention awaiting trial.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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