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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 20:50 GMT
Bangladesh torture 'endemic'
Bangladesh police officers
Bangladesh police are accused of torturing prisoners
The human rights organisation, Amnesty International, says scores of people have died in Bangladesh in the last 30 years as a result of torture at the hands of the country's security forces.

A report published on Wednesday accused successive governments since the country won independence in 1971 of ignoring what it said was a widespread practice.


Widespread and persistent torture has been routinely ignored

Amnesty International
"For too long torture has been accepted as normal behaviour," said the report.

"The government should take up the challenge to make a difference in Bangladesh by ending years of endemic torture."

The report said methods of police abuse included electric shocks, rape, beating people with rifle butts, iron rods and bamboo sticks and "water treatment" - in which hose pipes are inserted into victims' nostrils and taps turned on full for two minutes at a time.

"Victims can be children, women, the elderly, political dissidents, criminal suspects, or innocent bystanders," Amnesty said.

Abuses of power

The organisation is alarmed by the increasing numbers of deaths and rapes which it says is taking place in custody.

It cites one Bangladesh human rights group which estimates the number dead from torture in the first eight months of this year alone at 49.

The report also voices concern at the number of women who are maimed by relatives - and often killed - over dowry and other family disputes.

Amnesty believes the majority of cases involve torturing people to make them confess to crimes they did not commit.

But it also believes that politicians sometimes order the torture of their opponents.

The organisation says there is little interest in protecting human rights among the political parties and that the abuse of power by government authorities, officials and an influential elite allows torture to flourish.

It was encouraged, however, by the government's ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights in September.

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See also:

17 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burma accused of murder
06 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tibetan nuns 'died after torture'
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