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Bangladesh

Volume 450: debated on Friday 20 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the operation of immunity from prosecution for certain sectors of society, including parts of the armed forces, in Bangladesh; and if she will make a statement. (94888)

We understand that subsequent to “Operation Clean Heart”, a joint operation carried out by the Bangladeshi Army together with other security forces in 2002, constitutional immunity was enacted retrospectively, in relation to a significant number of deaths in custody. We support the right of the Bangladeshi Government to take legitimate measures to maintain law and order, but impunity in the law enforcement and security forces remains an issue of serious concern. The Rapid Action Battalion, a joint civilian/military unit that has wide Bangladeshi Government and public support, continues to be involved in “cross-fire” incidents which have often resulted in the death of suspects being apprehended.

We expect all law enforcement agencies to abide by the rule of law at all times. The Government are working with the Government of Bangladesh to help address the general issue of over-aggressive behaviour by the Bangladeshi police. The Department for International Development will contribute £5 million over three years to a UN Development Programme project which aims to review and modernise the police training curricula. In February, the UK funded a programme of Ethical Investigation Training sessions around the country on policing in line with international human rights norms.

We have made it clear in our contacts with the Government and Opposition in Bangladesh that there is no room for political violence in a democracy, and that we will be monitoring the role of the police and that of the military carefully during the election period.