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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 11:05 GMT
Bangladesh told to tackle torture
By Mark Dummett
BBC News, Dhaka

A Rapid Action Battalion personnel in Bangladesh
The Human Rights Watch says torture is rampant in Bangladesh
A US-based rights group has called on Bangladesh's caretaker government to tackle what it calls the endemic problem of torture in the country.

The Human Rights Watch says tens of thousands of people are being detained arbitrarily since the government imposed emergency a year ago.

Many of those arrested have been tortured, the group says.

The army-backed government came to power last year promising to reform the country's corrupt political system.

Human Rights Watch says that illegal detention and torture are rampant in Bangladesh and that the authorities are doing little to prevent them.

It claims that many of the people arrested under the emergency rules by the army and its intelligence organisation, the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, or DGFI, have been tortured to extract confessions.

Human Rights Watch says that the two seem to act outside civilian control, thus appearing to be, it says, powers unto themselves.


One alleged victim was Human Rights Watch's own researcher in Bangladesh, Tasneem Khalil, who was also a journalist for a leading Bangladeshi newspaper and CNN.

He has now published his first full account of how he was arrested at gun point in May last year and then taken to an interrogation centre which he believed was run by the DGFI.

There, he claims, he was repeatedly beaten and forced to confess to passing sensitive information on to foreign organisations.

Human Rights Watch believes that Mr Khalil was being punished for investigating cases of extra judicial killings by the security forces.

He was released after a day in custody and now lives in Sweden.

The government has not yet responded to Human Rights Watch's allegations, but when recently presented with similar claims, the interior minister, General MA Motin, said that torture was unacceptable and that the government would investigate all cases.

The army often states that it is working with the interim government and foreign donor countries to reform Bangladesh's institutions and return the country to democracy.

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