Friday, March 2, 2012

HRW fears illegal means for evidence

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it is concerned that the need to solve the case over murders of the journalist couple might lead law enforcers, 'known to engage in torture', to use 'illegal' or 'coercive means' to get evidence.

"HRW regrets their killing and we would urge the government to investigate these deaths in an expeditious and law-bound manner," the New York-based human-rights organisation said in an email sent to on Friday.

Though home minister Shahara Khatun has promised proper investigation, HRW said, there needs to be pressure to make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Maasranga Television news editor Golam Mostofa Sarowar, alias Sagar Sarowar, and his wife, ATN Bangla senior reporter Meherun Nahar Runi, were found murdered at their flat in the city's west Rajabazar on Feb 11.

Three weeks have gone after the killing but police are yet to arrest anyone or name any suspect.

The home minister had ordered the law enforcers to arrest the murderers within 48 hours but later said it was a 'strategy' to expedite the investigation.

Amid criticisms from several quarters and demonstration by journalists protesting the murders, prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Feb 23 said, "The journalists are staging demonstrations. But it's not possible for the government to guard anyone's bedroom."

The prime minister had also come down heavily on a section of reporters who interviewed Mahir Sarowar Megh, the 5-year son of the slain journalist couple.

Though she had promised full assistance for Megh, main opposition BNP has been saying it does not do away with the need to try the murderers.

The party has demanded resignation of Shahara for her failure in getting the killers of the couple arrested. She had said that the prime minister herself was supervising the case.


The HRW also aired its concern over the trial of crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War.

"The war crimes tribunal, if set up and conducted properly, would be an important step towards justice for victims who have been waiting for more than forty years," the statement said.

"Unfortunately, we have grave concerns about the Act and the attendant rules which we do not consider to meet the best standards of international practice on this matter," it added.

HRW said it will send separately some material it has drafted on this issue.

The government formed International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) on Mar 25 last year to try the suspected war criminals for their crimes against humanity during the 1971 War of Independence from Pakistan.

The ICT is currently trying eight leaders of main opposition BNP and its key ally Jamaat-e-Islami on charges of murder, arson, loot, rape and related crimes against humanity during that bloody war.

Jamaat chief Matiur Rahman Nizami, secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, executive council member Delwar Hossain Sayedee, assistant secretaries-general Mohammad Kamaruzzaman and Abdul Quader Molla are currently behind bars after being arrested over these charges.

Former Jamaat chief Ghulam Azam is also under custody in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University's prison cell on similar charges.

BNP standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and former member of BNP founder Gen Ziaur Rahman's cabinet Abdul Alim were also arrested on similar charges.

Of them, Alim is out on conditional bail, while the tribunal has already pressed charges against Sayedee.