Friday, May 16, 2014

Bangladesh civilian arrest of military officers

Here's a story out of Bangladesh. Three Army and Navy officers who had been assigned until recently to the Rapid Action Battalion were suspected of abducting and murdering seven civilians, including a city councilor. One of the three is the son-in-law of a cabinet minister. It took an order of the High Court to prompt civilian police to arrest the men, but not until the Armed Forces Division gave its approval could the police take action. According to
The AFD responded after the Narayanganj police had asked for its assistance in arresting the former officers.
The development comes four days after the High Court in an order asked the inspector general of police to arrest the three former Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) officials.
Since the court order, given on May 11, their arrest order was not issued, though there were no legal barriers[,] because of apparent procedural complications between police and the army.
This seems to be another instance--see the evolving situation in Pakistan--in which the consent of the armed forces is required before civilian criminal jurisdiction can be exercised over military personnel. According to Human Rights Watch, which has been on the case:
Following the abduction and apparent contract killings of seven people by members of RAB and other security forces in Narayangunj district in central Bangladesh on May 2, 2014, the state minister for home affairs, Asaduzzaman Khan, announced that the prime minister had ordered law enforcement agencies to ensure that all those responsible are found and punished, regardless of their positions. The High Court, acting on its own motion, directed that any investigation into the killings be conducted by a specially constituted body independent of the security forces, and issued an arrest warrant against three RAB officers to be tried before civilian courts.
“After years of refusing to investigate RAB, the government has changed course and reacted quickly to the Narayangunj murders,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “This is welcome and hopefully marks a shift away from years of impunity for RAB and other security forces. The prime minister must now broaden the probe and create an independent process to ensure accountability for all cases, not just Narayangunj.”

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