The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday condemned the “alleged extra-judicial killings” of suspected drug offenders in Bangladesh and urged the authorities to ensure that these serious human rights violations are immediately halted and perpetrators brought to justice.
Some 130 people have reportedly been shot dead by security forces across Bangladesh in the three weeks since 15 May and another 13,000 arrested. The killings began after the Government announced a “zero tolerance” policy to confront the growing consumption of drugs in the country, particularly the spread of methamphetamine.
“I am gravely concerned that such a large number of people have been killed, and that the Government reaction has been to assure the public that none of these individuals were ‘innocent’ but that mistakes can occur in an anti-narcotics drive. Such statements are dangerous and indicative of a total disregard for the rule of law. Every person has the right to life. People do not lose their human rights because they use or sell drugs. The presumption of innocence and the right to due process must be at the forefront of any efforts to tackle crimes,” High Commissioner Zeid said in a statement.
“Given the large number of people arrested, there is a high likelihood that many people may have been arbitrarily detained, without due regard for their rights,” he added.
The High Commissioner called on the Government of Bangladesh to investigate the reports of extrajudicial killings, and stressed that there must not be impunity for human rights violations in the name of drug control.
Bangladesh’s Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs had assured Mr Zeid at a meeting in Geneva last week that investigations would take place and those found to be responsible for crimes would be held accountable.
Earlier on Monday, the Delegation of European Union to Bangladesh called for a full investigation into all the deaths of alleged criminal suspects in the ongoing nationwide drive against drugs in Bangladesh.