UPDATE (Bangladesh): Parents receive death threats from police and perpetrator’s wife in the custodial death of their son


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-026-2010
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings, Impunity, Rule of law, Threats and intimidation,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) previously informed you that the Chatkhil police, of Noakhali district had tortured a man to death on May 13, 2010. This was followed by an update on the case regarding intimidation of the father of the deceased victim Robiul Islam Khokon (For further details, please see our previous appeals: AHRC-UAU-024-2010 and AHRC-UAC-072-2010). 

Now, the AHRC has received updated information on this case regarding death threats to the parents of the victim. The subject is a group of seven persons, who are believed to be policemen in plain-clothes, accompanied by the detained police Sub- Inspector Abdul Mannan’s wife. The victim’s family is living in fear for their lives for refusing to withdraw charges in the murder case. Please intervene in this case and insist that the authorities provide full protection for the family from any further threats to their lives. 

UPDATED INFORMATION: (Based on interviews of relatives) 

On June 14, 2010, Mr. Md. Shahjahan, father of Mr. Robiul Islam Khokon, a victim of custodial death, went to the Judicial Magistrate’s Court of Noakhali at Maizdi of the district town to appear before the Court. This was a hearing on murder case (No. 4, registered under Section 302 of the Penal Code-1860 dated on May 14, 2010) against SI Abdul Mannan with the Chatkhil police regarding the death of his son due to torture while in police custody. Sahjahan went there accompanied by his wife Mrs. Rawshan Akter, who is the complainant in the case. The court opened the case at around 11am and instead of hearing the complaint fixed another hearing date on June 28, 2010. Sub-Inspector (SI) Abdul Manan, was identified as the sole perpetrator in the complaint which was not witnessed. The complaint was poorly-drafted by police and later registered as an FIR (First Information Report) with a forced signature of the complainant, the deceased’s mother. She was detained in Court Custody, but however, was not physically brought before a Magistrate (For further details, please see: AHRC-UAU-024-2010 and AHRC-UAC-072-2010). 

At around 3pm, when Shahjahan was coming out of the court and nearing the main road out side the court buildings, seven persons in civilian dress, accompanied by a woman approached him. They stopped Shahjahan and asked why he was continuing with the proceedings of the case instead of withdrawing them. As the complainant denied withdrawing the complaint, they threatened that he would meet the same fate as his son. “If you care about your own life and betterment, withdraw the case before you face the same consequences that your son experienced!” 

Upon continuous threats from the seven, Shahjahan and his wife Rawshan Akter quickly left the scene. Later, he enquired about their identities. He learned that the woman was the wife of SI Mannan and the men in civilian dress were members of the police force. 

Shahjahan told the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that a number of influential lawyers of the Noakhali Bar Association represented the alleged perpetrator, police SI Abdul Mannan. However, as a day-labourer, he was unable to afford fees for a lawyer on his own. He also expressed his fear saying that, “Demanding justice for the murder of my son by the police has now made all members’ (of the family) lives unsettled.” 


The death threats to the Shajahan family after the murder of their son Robiul Islam Khokon, represents the hard realities of Bangladeshi life today. There is the practice of torture by law-enforcing agents; a dysfunctional criminal justice system; impunity for the perpetrators of torture and custodial deaths; and the utter absence of getting legal redress for gross violations of the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution. These are particularly the rights to life, liberty, security and protection from the clutches of State agents. 

The Magistrates and the courts of the country do not address the problems that families of the victims of custodial death or the survivors of torture face from law-enforcement agencies. In its entirety, the components of the criminal justice system fail completely to understand the reality of their lives. And, more importantly, fail to act in delivering justice to the justice-seekers for the incidents of custodial violations they suffered. 

On the one hand, in the domestic legislation of Bangladesh, torture is not criminalized, while on the other hand, there is no witness protection system at all. In addition, there is an absence of a judicial mindset among judicial officers, including Magistrates and Judges of the Sessions Courts and the Supreme Court. This lack contributes to the practical process of a denial of justice. This includes increasing the vulnerability of the survivors of torture and the families of the victims of custodial deaths. To a certain degree the justice-seekers are driven to conclude that all institutions are totally useless and literally non-existent. 

Furthermore, the country does not have an effective legal aid mechanism to provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford high lawyers fees. Coupled with this, the judicial process is merged with corruption. The existing legal aid system neither aids the victims nor the judicial system itself due to its complicated processes and non-responsive, discriminatory and arbitrary attitudes toward litigants, poor or otherwise. 

Please write to the authorities listed below asking that they intervene immediately in this case and ensure that the family of the victim is protected from any further harassment or threats from state agents. Insist that the authorities have the murder case investigated by competent judicial officers. The alleged perpetrators must be prosecuted without delay. 

Please note that the Asian Human Rights Commission has written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Question of Torture as well as Extrajudicial and Summary Execution requesting their prompt intervention. 

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ————, 

BANGLADESH: Parents receive death threats from police and perpetrator’s wife in the custodial death of their son 

Name of victim: Mr. Robiul Hasan Khokon, aged 23, son of Mr. Md. Shahajahan, living in Mozzotpara (Jheelpara) under the jurisdiction of the Chatkhil police station in Noakhali district 

Name of the alleged perpetrators (Torture): 
1. Mr. Abdul Mannan, Sub Inspector of Police 
2. Mr. Mohammed Sohidullah, Police Constable 
3. Mr. Golam Mostafa, Police Constable 
4. Mr. Humayan Kabir, Inspector of Police and Officer-in-Charge (OC) 

All are attached to the Chatkhil Police Station of Noakhali district 

Place of incident (Torture): Chatkhil police station in Noakhali district 
Date of incident (Custodial death due to torture): 13 May 2010 

I am writing to express my grave concern over the death threats to the parents of Mr. Robiul Islam Khokon, who was tortured to death by the Chatkhil police of the Noakhali district on May13, 2010. The actions of the police are highly illegal and require an immediate credible investigation by competent judicial officers. The family of the deceased torture victim deserves protection from the State, which has an obligation to punish the accused police officers for the alleged crimes they have committed. 

According to updated information, the complainant in murder case (No. 4 of the Chatkhil Police Station, dated May14, 2010) Mrs. Rawshan Akter and her husband Mr. Md. Shahajahan-parents of the deceased Khokon-went to the Judicial Magistrate’s Court of Noakhali at Maizdi on June 14 to attend a hearing of the case. After Court proceedings, as the family was returning home, they were stopped by a group of seven men in civilian dress and a woman. They insisted the complainant withdraw charges in the murder case, registered against Sub-Inspector Abdul Mannan. These people were later identified as members of the police force, accompanied by the wife of SI Mannan. They made death threats to Shahjahan and Rawshan Akter because of the family’s firm decision to fight the case. 

I am aware that the Court has fixed a new date, June 28, for hearing the case. It is ignoring the deeper issues, enshrined in our Constitution, involving the violation of the fundamental rights of the Shahajahan family. These are seen as rights to life, to personal liberty and to security of the person, particularly those of the deceased torture victim and his family. 

I have learned from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that the problems of the law-enforcement system and the criminal justice system are not adequately understood in Bangladesh. Included in this lack of awareness are policymakers as well as professionals who are involved in the process of the administration of justice. 

I see that torture, while in the custody of the State agencies, is an integral part of the law-enforcement system. I am also aware that the perpetrators of torture and custodial death enjoy maximum impunity from the State. Their lawless actions, including violations of peoples’ fundamental rights go hand in glove with the absence of any State witness protection system. 

Moreover, the legal aid system is unfriendly and inaccessible to the poor, due to the discriminatory attitudes of the professionals involved. The absence of a judicial mindset make the country’s judiciary, from the Magistracy to the Supreme Court, careless and irresponsible about their constitutional obligations to ensure the protection of its citizens. 

Bangladesh’s failure to proclaim torture as a crime in compliance with the UN Convention against Torture (CAT), acceded to on October 5, 1998, contributes to the recurrence of torture and custodial death with no available legal remedy. The government is silent about the Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Bill-2009, tabled in the Parliament on September 10, 2009 as a Private Member’s Bill. This proposed bill fails to specify the government’s moral and practical position regarding its international and constitutional obligations to protect people from custodial torture. 

The UN Human Rights Council of Bangladesh has been a long-standing member of the international community since May 2006, but yet fails to require the nation to fulfill the country’s obligation to its own people as well as to the world. 

I urge the government of Bangladesh not to delay any further to enact the Torture and Custodial Death (Prohibition) Bill-2009 in order to begin a process of opening windows so that the victims of torture get justice. The lawless actions of the police officers, in the case of Khokon’s custodial death, must be credibly investigated by competent judicial officers followed by prosecution of the alleged perpetrators. No members of the law-enforcement agencies should be part of this investigation. Adequate compensation and protection must be afforded to the family. 

The international community must intervene. The country’s failure to protect the fundamental rights that come under its obligations according to the CAT and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) holds it accountable for not making torture a crime in its domestic legislation. 

Yours sincerely, 


1. Mrs. Sheikh Hasina 
Prime Minister 
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh 
Office of the Prime Minister 
Tejgaon, Dhaka 
Fax: +880 2 811 3244 / 3243 / 1015 / 1490 
Tel: +880 2 882 816 079 / 988 8677 
E-mail: pm@pmo.gov.bd or ps1topm@pmo.gov.bd or psecy@pmo.gov.bd 

2. Mr. Mohammad Rezaul Karim 
Chief Justice 
Supreme Court of Bangladesh 
Supreme Court Building 
Ramna, Dhaka-1000 
Fax: +880 2 956 5058 /+880 2 7161344 
Tel: +880 2 956 2792/ +880 2 956 2792 
E-mail: chief@bdcom.com or supremec@bdcom.com 

3. Barrister Shafique Ahmed 
Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs 
Bangladesh Secretariat 
Tel: +880 2 7160627/ +880 2 7160627 (O) 
Fax: +880 2 7168557 (O) 
Email: info@minlaw.gov.bd 

4. Ms. Sahara Khatun MP 
Ministry of Home Affairs 
Bangladesh Secretariat 
Tel: +880 2 7169069/ +880 2 7169069 (O) 
Fax: +880 2 7160405, 880 2 7164788 (O) 
E-mail: minister@mha.gov.bd 

5. Mr. Mahbubey Alam 
Attorney General of Bangladesh 
Office of the Attorney General 
Supreme Court Annex Building 
Ramna, Dhaka-1000 
Fax: +880 2 956 1568 
Tel: +880 2 956 2868/ +880 2 956 2868 

6. Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury 
National Human Rights Commission 
6/3 Lalmatia, Block-D 
Tel: +880 2 9137740/ +880 2 9137740 
Fax: +880 2 9137743 
E-mail: nhrc.bd@gmail.com 

7. Mr. Nur Mohammad 
Inspector General of Police (IGP) 
Bangladesh Police 
Police Headquarters’ 
Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000 
Fax: +880 2 956 3362 / 956 3363 
Tel: +880 2 956 2054 / +880 2 956 2054 / 717 6451 / 717 6677 
E-mail: ig@police.gov.bd 

8. Md. Asaduz Zaman Mia 
Deputy Inspector General of Chittagong Range 
Bangladesh Police 
Office of the DIG of Chittagong Range 
Zakir Hossain Road 
Khulshi, Chittagong 
Tel: +880 31 650120 +880 31 650120 +880 31 655466 +880 31 655466 (O) 
Mobile: +88 01713-373623 
Fax: +88 031 652111 (O) 
E-mail: digchittagong@police.gov.bd 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeal Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-026-2010
Countries : Bangladesh,
Issues : Extrajudicial killings, Impunity, Rule of law, Threats and intimidation,