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What are our rights?

  • Published at 12:00 am December 26th, 2018
Our rights are sacred BIGSTOCK

The state has a duty to safeguard human rights enshrined in the constitution 

We all know what human rights are, but it’s important to know that they were not established overnight. 

After World War I, on January 10, 1920, the League of Nations was formed with a view to establish peace and tranquility, and to settle international disputes through negotiation and arbitration abstaining from war among states. But due to the failure of carrying out the goal of the League of Nations, World War II broke out from 1939 to 1945.

As a result, millions of people perished -- about 3% of the world population in 1940 -- where the doctrine of rule of law and international humanitarian rights (IHR) were grossly violated. To ensure rule of law and that human rights are upheld, the international community adopted the charter of the United Nations.

Yet, despite all the international provisions upholding human rights at an international level, it appears human rights violations are increasing day-by-day -- including Bangladesh, usually through rampant torture, crossfires, beatings, extra-judicial killings, and sexual assault.

Though these are all common scenarios in Bangladesh, the number of incidents is increasing year-by-year. According to a report by Odhikar, about 625 individuals were tortured between 2004 and 2018 (up to May) at the hands of law enforcement agencies, while 280 people died from torture between 2001 and 2017, and about 3,209 people were extra-judicially killed.

All these numbers reflect the gross violation of human rights at the hands of the state. Due to provisions which endow excessive power to law enforcement agencies in detaining any individual without warrant, we are seeing more and more violations of human rights at the hands of law enforcers.

On the other hand, in order to protect the right to life as a fundamental right, there are numerous national and international laws in place as well as judicial precedents for them. In national law, articles 32, 33, 35 (5), 31, 27, 26, and 7 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Sections 15 (1), (2), and (3) of the Prohibition to Torture and Death in Custody, 2013, and Section 29 of The Police Act of 1861 protect the right to life.

Therefore, it is the duty of the state to protect the rights of the people. In addition, 19 reliable judicial guidelines were delivered by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in the case Bangladesh v BLAST [8 SCOB (2016) AD. 1], where the court recommended to construct a remand room made wholly of glass so that lawyers or the relatives of the detained can observe the activities of remand officers.

So in order to ensure the right to life in the appropriate sense, the government should implement judicial guidelines and precedents which could ideally play a vital role in reducing the current untenable situation regarding human rights. 

SM Shahidullah Mamun is an Assistant Researcher on legal issues.