Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bangladesh should abolish the death penalty

By Jahangir Alam Akash, Bangladesh is a country where there is no right to life. Rather, exercising the death penalty and extra judicial killings violates the right, which is common practice. Every year many peoples are handed the death penalty and many more die due to extra judicial killings. There are no statistics on the number of people killed since Bangladesh attained independence.

The death penalty is a kind of killing. Recently, five persons were handed the death penalty in a day. On Jan. 28, the decision was made by the Bangladesh Supreme Court to execute the self-declared killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding leader of Bangladesh. However, questions have risen on the execution procedure.

Here are some statistics on extra judicial killings in Bangladesh, specifically for human rights organization and bodies working on national and international levels, for human rights.

Extra judicial killings since 2004 have resulted in at least 1,600 deaths. Fifty-eight people were killed during “Operation Clean Heart” led by the army, in 2002. The mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles regiment in February 2009 resulted in the deaths of 74 people including 57 meritorious army officers.

According to the daily Bhorer Kagoj, after the mutiny at least 71 BDR mutineers died in police custody. It is alleged that most were tortured before death.

The death penalty is extremely inhuman, degrading and cruel. The constitution and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights prohibit it, but Bangladesh continues to exercise it.

According to the book “The death penalty,” most executions in 2008 were carried out in Asia. Eleven Asian nations – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, North Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore, and Vietnam – still continue to practice the death penalty.

China alone accounted for at least 1,718 executions although the figure is believed to be much higher, as statistics on death sentences and executions are not publicly disclosed and are considered state secrets.

The Middle East and North Africa were second highest with 508 executions. In Iran, stoning and hanging are among the most cruel and inhumane methods used for carrying out death sentences and least 346 people have been executed including eight juvenile offenders. In Saudi Arabia, where beheadings in public is common practice, at least 102 people have been executed.

In the Americas, 37 executions were carried out in 2008, most in the state of Texas. The release of four men from death row in the United States on grounds of innocence brings the total to more than 120 released since 1975. The only other country in the Americas to carry out the death penalty in 2008 was St Kitts and Nevis, the first Caribbean state to carry out an execution since 2003.

According to Amnesty International, 93 percent of the world death penalty took place in China including other four countries.

DW-Bengali’s online section wrote on Feb. 25 that the European Union published a declaration on anti-death penalty. Europe is the first region, which there is no death penalty. The United States, China, Africa and some Asian countries contradicted a EU proposal on anti-death penalty presented to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva and the general assembly of the United Nations in 1998. However, in 2007, the proposal was finally passed by the U.N. general assembly.

Fifty-eight percent of people in China support the death penalty. That said 93 countries have already abolished the death penalty by making it law. Unfortunately, some 141 countries still practice the death penalty.

Historically, Italy has a strong background on the anti-death penalty movement. We must salute Italy as well as other EU states for their dedicated efforts to preserve the right to life and other human rights.

Bangladesh should obey the national and international treaties and human rights declarations and abolish the death penalty immediately, if they believe, even a bit, that life and rights are valuable.

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Jahangir Alam Akash-Editor of Euro Bangla


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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla