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Tuesday, April 20, 1999 Published at 02:01 GMT 03:01 UK


World: South Asia

Bangladesh court slams police

Police are accused of widespread abuse

By David Chazan in Dhaka

Two High Court judges in Bangladesh have called for a new code of conduct for the police, who they said have lost public confidence after being accused of widespread abuses and corruption.

The court was hearing a petition challenging the detention of a 10-year-old boy under Bangladesh's Special Powers Act.

The two judges on the bench dismissed the case on the grounds that the boy had already been released after the home minister intervened.

They went on to observe that what they called excessive abuses by police could not be overlooked.

The judges said foreign citizens were afraid to go to police stations without adequate security.

They were referring to the warning issued by the British High Commission in Dhaka after diplomats said a British woman had told them that four policemen raped her when she went to a police station to report a theft.

Bangladeshis fear police

The judges said Bangladeshis were equally scared of the police, who have been accused in recent years of a number of killings and rapes, including that of a five-year-old girl.

A number of policemen have been arrested following the discovery of a dead body in a water tank at detective branch headquarters last month.

International aid donors meeting in Paris have been raising concerns about what they say is a deterioration in law and order in Bangladesh.

Foreign diplomats say the police are part of the problem.

The judges' call for a new code of police conduct will be welcomed by many Bangladeshis, who say the police all too often break the laws they are paid to enforce.



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