DHAKA, July 5: The government today slammed Human Rights Watch (HRW) for "falsehood" smelling rat in the New York based rights group's statement as it demanded dismantling of the elite anticrime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and halt of 2009 BDR mutiny suspects' trial.
"It (HRW report) is completely false and baseless," Law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed told newsmen after the HRW's Asia Director Brad Adams called on him along with a delegation of the watchdog.
Ahmed termed the HRW report as "interference in internal matter of the country" and asked HRW to not publish "such report in the future" while "they were convinced about our concern against their allegations".
Home Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun, however, smelled a plot to have worked behind the rights group report saying some vested local and foreign quarters could be behind it to expose the government to a difficult state.
"A section with an ill motive is hatching such conspiracies to make questionable the law enforcement agencies, particularly the RAB, which has been playing vital role in fighting militancy," she told the first founding anniversary of 11 Armed Women Police Battalion (APBN).
The law minister said he outlined the role and activities of the RAB and other law enforcement agencies to the HRW alongside the trial process of the suspects of 2009 carnage at the headquarters of the then Bangladesh Rifles (BDR).
"We told them the RAB and other law enforcement agencies perform their duties within their legal framework . . . one or two isolated incidents (of rights violation) often are reported which witnesses appropriate enquiries and actions," Ahmed said.
The minister said he also told the HRW the ongoing trials of crimes against humanity at the International Crimes Tribunal, Pilkhana carnage are run under the complete purview of the law of the land.
"We believe in rule of law and work for establishing democracy in the country," the minister said.
State Minister for Law Advocate Qamrul Islam, who too was present in the meeting with HRW, later told newsmen that the people, who wanted to make the country dysfunctional, have links with the HRW report.
"Now the time has come to take action against such of this initiative through a proper investigation," he said.
Talking to newsmen Adams, however, said their report was based on adequate information and asserted that it was not "motivated or biased".
"Our findings showed that RAB takes people on detention unlawfully . . . we also want justice for 800 BDR jawans which the court tried them to give punishment shortly," he said.
On Wednesday, the HRW demanded dismantling of the elite anticrime RAB and asked the government to halt trial of mutiny suspects of 2009 rebellion in the frontier force that saw deaths of 74 people.
"Disband RAB and create a non-military unit within the police or a new institution, which puts human rights at its core to lead the fight against crime and terrorism," the rights group said in a 57-page report titled "'The Fear Never Leaves Me': Torture, Custodial Deaths, and Unfair Trials After the 2009 Mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles".
It also asked Bangladesh to "take genuine and meaningful steps to address the longstanding epidemic of torture and mistreatment" by RAB, Directorate general of Counter Intelligence (DGFI), and other security services.
"The Bangladeshi authorities should immediately halt mass trials of proceedings . . . mass trials like these simply cannot provide justice for victims, or real answers about who was responsible for the terrible crimes committed during the mutiny," the report read.
The report alleged that the suspects in the 2009 BDR mutiny have been subjected to widespread abuse, torture, and deaths in custody and "the mass trials of nearly 6,000 suspects raise serious fair trial concerns".
In line with a Supreme Court directive, the core suspects of the mutiny were exposed to trial under civil Penal Code for killings, lootings, torching and firing gunshots during the carnage at the Sessions Judge's Court which could hand them down the death penalty, which however, must be reviewed by the higher courts.
The ordinary mutineers were being tried under BDR Act at paramilitary court that can award them the highest seven years of
imprisonments for breach of discipline.
The HRW statement came as prosecutors at the civil sessions judge's court said they expected the trial to be completed by the yearend while frontier force officials said the trial of the ordinary mutineers was also likely to be completed in next few months.
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