Using force not answer to political protests: AI

London-based global human rights watchdog the Amnesty International (AI) criticized the government for giving police carte blanche (blank card) to use excessive force amid the recent wave of horrific petrol bomb attacks during the ongoing violent political protests.

human rights BangladeshQuoting media reports over Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s announcement giving liberty to police to take any action to stop arson attacks, the London-based AI said, “Remarks like these carry a high risk of being seen as an open invitation for the police to use unnecessary and excessive force against demonstrators or even to carry out extrajudicial executions, which Bangladeshi security forces have carried out with appalling frequency in the past.”

“These deaths during police operations – some of which may amount to extrajudicial executions – must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice,” it said.

“The security forces have a duty to maintain law and order, but that does not place them above the law and it is never an excuse to resort to excessive use of force,” said Abbas Faiz, AI’s Bangladesh researcher.

“Under international law and standards, police may use only what force is strictly necessary and proportionate in a given situation; they must at all times respect the right to life and take steps to minimise the risk of injury and death. Intentional lethal use of firearms is permissible only if strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” he added.Denouncing the violence it said international human rights law protects the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and peaceful protest, but the manner in which the BNP-led protests are being carried out clearly shows a repeated pattern of violence being used for a political purpose.

“The Bangladesh Nationalist Party should exhort their members and supporters to stop these politically-motivated criminal acts, which should be dealt with in fair procedures under the criminal law,” the AI added.