UPDATE (Bangladesh): Police manipulate investigation of custodial murder


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-035-2010
ISSUES: Corruption, Extrajudicial killings, Impunity, Right to fair trial, Right to redress, Rule of law, Threats and intimidation, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the custodial death of Mr. Mizanur Rahman, who was extrajudicially killed by the Gulshan Police in Dhaka after having been kept in arbitrary detention for two days (For further details, please see our original appeal here: AHRC-UAC-107-2010). The AHRC has received the statement of a fellow detainee, who was also shot by the police at the time when Mizan was killed, which describes the whole story about the murder in an audiovisual interview. The police are continuously harassing the deceased’s family, intimidating and obstructing them from communicating with the media and human rights organisations. 

UPDATED INFORMATION: (Based on the statements of the victim’s relatives, witnesses and on documents related to the incident)

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned from a fellow detainee at the time when Mizanur Rahman, who was shot dead in the pretext of a so called “gunfight” while in Gulshan police custody, that the Gulshan police killed Mizan in direct shoot outs. Mr. Mohammad Manik, who was detained together with Mizan in the Gulshan police custody and received bullet injury in his leg, told in an audiovisual interview that Sub Inspector (SI) Anisur Rahman of the Gulshan police shot at the left legs of Mizan and Manik when both were taken out from the police cell early in the morning of 1 July 2010. The police then asked both wounded persons to run away. Mizan followed the instructions of the police and as soon as attempted to run the police fired at his other leg and he fell to the ground. However, Manik did not run to avoid Mizan’s consequence and survived as he was only shot in one leg. Mizan’s death was due to continuous bleeding without any treatment after both of them were taken to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) where Manik gave an interview before camera. He described how the police officers bargained with the detainees and their families and subsequently extorted money while in detention at the Gulshan police station. Later, from the DMCH Manik was sent to the Dhaka Central Jail under the cases registered by the police officers against him along with others after the death of Mizan.

The AHRC has received an audiovisual interview of Mohammad Manik which was recorded on the same morning when he was admitted to the DMCH reveals the story. Please see the interview of Manik in Bangla language here:

Meanwhile, a High Court Division Bench of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on 5 July 2010, four days after Mizan had been killed, ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to form a committee to probe three custodial deaths including the death of Mizan within seven days since the Bench passed the order. The Division Bench comprising Justice AHM Shamsudding Chowdhury and Justice Sheikh Mohammad Zakir Hossain ordered the government not to include any member from the police in the probe committee. It also ordered to inform the Court that what measures had been taken as per the Code of Criminal Procedure (of 1898) following the deaths and what initiatives had been adopted in order to prevent deaths under the custody of the law-enforcing agencies and security forces. The High Court Bench passed this order following a public interest writ petition (No. 5241/2010) filed by two human rights organisations – Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation in cooperation with Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh. The Court directed the ministerial probe committee to record the statements of the eyewitnesses of the incidents of custodial deaths and submit the opinions regarding the said custodial deaths expressed by prominent columnists that were published in the media beforehand. It issued a rule against the respondents – the secretary of the Home Ministry, Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police and the Officers-in-Charge of Dar-Us-Salam, Ramna and Gulshan police stations – asking them appear before the Court within two weeks and explain about the custodial deaths. The Court asked the Dhaka Medical College Hospital to submit the post-mortem reports of the three custodial deaths. It also made a panel of 11 prominent lawyers and jurists to assist the Court as amici curiae regarding the issue.

After the Court’s order the Ministry of Home Affairs formed a two-member-probe-committee comprising Mr. Shawkat Mostofa, Joint Secretary (Law) and Mr. Mozakker Ali, Deputy Secretary (Law) of the Ministry of Home Affairs to inquire into the incident. However, the committee has not yet visited the crime scene or talked to the family of the victims of custodial death or any of the eye-witnesses.

Since the AHRC issued Urgent Appeal (AHRC-UAC-107-2010) regarding the custodial death of Mr. Mizanur Rahman under the Gulshan police custody of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) the family of the deceased has faced intimidation and threats from the police officers regularly. The family has shifted its house three times since the incident of extrajudicial killing of Mizan as a result of non-stop surveillance by the members of the law-enforcing and intelligence agencies. The cell phone of Mrs. Taslima Khatun remained unreachable for several weeks.

Later, when contacted Taslima told the AHRC that the police picked her up by their vehicle on several occasions to the Badda police station as well as other unidentified offices occupied by the police officers where she was offered money and intimidated not to communicate with the media and human rights organisations without permission from the police officers. The police also allegedly snatched Taslima’s personal cell phone (+8801750000241) and provided a new cell phone (+880174 6458128) so that only the police officers have access to her. On 10 August, Mr. Akther, who claims that he is leader of the ruling political party – Bangladesh Awami League, located Taslima and returned her cell phone, which was seized by the police officers after the custodial death her husband.

In an interview with the AHRC she claims that the police officers offered her money with the intimidation that if the matter is discussed with any journalist of the media or human rights organisation, she and her family will have to bear the liabilities for such communications. She also alleges that since the extrajudicial murder of her husband by the police she has been under surveillances of the law-enforcement agencies of the country. The political activists of the ruling party and the former landlord of Taslima Akhter insisted her to collaborate with the police for the sake of saving the life and career of Sub Inspector (SI) Anisur Rahman and other police officers of the Gulshan police.

Giving examples of the pressures and intimidation that Taslima’s family has received from the police and political activists Taslima alleges that the police had taken away the documents regarding a life insurance policy of her husband – Mr. Mizanur Rahman, who was killed by the police while in an arbitrary detention – and had repeatedly denied to return it until her signatures were taken on documents prepared by the police officers.

On one occasion, after two days of her husband’s murder, she was taken by the police officers to a house at around midnight. An unknown person, who introduced himself as a lawyer, provided some prepared documents and took her signature and thumb prints on them while she was escorted by the police.

Moreover, in the process of intimidation the police forced Taslima’s neighbours to locate her (Taslima’s) whereabouts while she was hiding concerning about the security of her and her child’s life.

On 20 August 2010, at around 6:30pm, Taslima’s former landlord Mr. Tajul, accompanied by Mr. Akther, a local activist of the ruling political party- Bangladesh Awami League, and a plain clothed policeman, who was carrying a wireless set in hand, went to a woman, whom the police believed that she might be aware of Taslima’s whereabouts, and asked woman to send Taslima to the office of the DC (Deputy Commissioner of Police) for putting signatures on certain documents. They (police and political activists) insisted that at any cost SI Anis’s job should be protected with an assurance that the AC (Assistant Commissioner of Police) will correct all the papers relating to the purpose.

21 August, at about 7:05pm, Mr. Akther again called Taslima’s neighbour to remind her obligation to send Taslima to the police. They insistently suggested that Taslima should go to the office DC for asserting that she signed on the papers provided by the police on her own will. At 7:30pm on the same evening, Taslima went to the office of the AC where the Death Certificate of Mizan (Taslima’s husband), a money receipt, which was deposited to an Account at the Trust Bank, a bank controlled by the armed forces of Bangladesh, and a certificate issued by a local Imam (Muslim clergy) of a mosque on burial of Mizan’s dead body.

The money receipt, which was given by the police to Taslima, shows that money was deposited to the Trust Bank on 19 July 2010 under the National Savings Schemes for five years (Registration No. 51/10) and will be payable jointly to Taslima and her sister-in-law Ms. Farida. Both of the co-recipients have nominated Liza Akhter, Taslima’s dauther, for the whole amount. The document contains photos of Taslima, Farida and Liza.

On the other hand the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) disseminated a press release on 22 July. In the Press Release the DMP claims that it was following all the directions as per the order given by the High Court. It accused the print and electronic media for publishing “emotionally and willingly biased reports that may create wrong perception” regarding the custodial deaths and “influence the ongoing investigation by the Home Ministry probe committee, which was being conducted according to the Court’s guidelines”. It urged the media to respect the Court’s order by not publishing any further report on the issue of custodial deaths for “impartial” and “uninfluenced” investigation.

Taslima alleged that the police officers were doing silly jokes with her family regarding the orphanage of her child. She told that the police took her along with her mother-in-law Mrs. Samsun Nahar (deceased Mizan’s mother) to the office of AC of Gulshan Zone Mr. Nurul Alam on several occasions. On the very first day when Samsun Nahar went to the AC’s office she asked him, “You (police) have killed my son (Mizan). Now, my grandchild has been an orphan at this minor age. Whom shall the child call ‘father’?” The police officer replied, “You don’t have to worry about this. The child can call me ‘father’! Offering a sum of money he said, “We cannot bring the man back to life. But, we will pay you money that will give you a better life.” The policeman also took the thumb print of Shamsun Nahar on a paper, which has not been shared with them.

Taslima claims that none of the probe committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs has taken her statement as part of the investigation as per the directions by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.


The police pretend to obey the High Court’s order through its press release. But, in fact, they not only utterly disrespect the order of the court but also manipulate the whole investigation process by creating panic through harassing the witnesses and the family of the victim as they have done in the case of Mizan after the extrajudicial murder.

In one hand, the police resisted the family to speak to the media and human rights defenders by snatching mobile phone of Taslima and seizing her deceased husband’s life insurance-related documents, and on the other they intimidate the family as well as tempt them by offering money. The police also engaged the local political activists to insist the victim’s family to hide the truth related to the murder of Mizan for the sake of saving the job of the alleged policemen, which means that the job of police is more precious than human life, rule of law and justice in the country.

The experiences of the victims of custodial abuses further create a question relating to the protection of the witnesses of criminal offences, particularly the state-sponsored abuses, in Bangladesh. There is no witness protection mechanism, which multiplies the problems of the families and witnesses of the custodial abuses, in the country that cultivate a culture of impunity for the perpetrators.

The long absence of the probe committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to hear the pains of the family as a result of the extrajudicial death of their breadwinner and in the midst of continuous harassment by the police and their allies raises question regarding its purpose. The High Court Division directed the Home Ministry believably to help the victims as well as to the judiciary for finding out the truth. In reality, the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has been failed to control the law-enforcement agencies for decades for its flawed and anti-rule of law policy of extending impunity to the perpetrators, appears to be reluctant to respond to the call for justice even though it is from the highest court of the country.

The remarks of the police officer regarding the orphan child’s fatherlessness represent the absurdity that prevails within the police force in Bangladesh.

Please write to the authorities below asking for their immediate intervention to ensure that this case of extrajudicial killing is thoroughly and transparently investigated by the judicial probe committee, without police interference or impediment. Those found to have been involved in the litany of crimes attached to this case must be prosecuted without delay. The family of the victim and the witnesses must be granted adequate state protection from further harassment and threats.

Please note that the Asian Human Rights Commission has written a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Question of Torture and Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions requesting their prompt interventions in this case.

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


Dear __________,

UPDATE (Bangladesh): Police manipulate investigation of custodial murder 

Name of the victim: Mr. Md. Mizanur Rahman, aged 35 years, a small businessman who used to run a photo-studio on rent, son of Mr. Abdul Jalil, living in a rented room at Baroberait, under the jurisdiction of the Badda police station of the Dhaka Metropolitan city

Name of the alleged perpetrators: 
1. Mr. Anisur Rahman, Sub Inspector of police
2. Mr. Kamal Uddin, Inspector of Police and Officer-in-Charge (OC)
3. Mr. Sheikh Masud Karim, Operations Officer
4. Mr. Mahmud Moyeen, Sub Inspector of Police
5. Mr. Khitish Chandra Roy, Sub Inspector of Police
6. Mr. Md. Abdul Malek, Police Constable (Badge No. 6467)
7. Mr. Md. Shafiuzzaman, Police Constable (Badge No. 3013)
8. Mr. Sahidullah, Police Constable (Badge No. 5773)

All are attached to the Gulshan police station of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP)

9. Mr. Md. Nurul Alam, Assistant Commissioner of Police of Gulshan Zone, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP)

Date of extrajudicial murder: 1 July 2010
Place of incident: Road No. 11 of Banani area, under the jurisdiction of the Gulshan police station in the Dhaka Metropolitan City

I am writing to express my serious concern over the harassment and intimidation of a family of extrajudicial killing by the police in Dhaka and the failure of the Ministry of Home Affairs to conduct impartial investigation as the government of Bangladesh itself has not only failed to protect the life of the person but also failing to protect the family of the deceased as well as the witnesses of the incident. I demand credible investigation of the incident of extrajudicial murder by the police and prosecution of the police officers that are responsible for the killing followed by illegal arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. Mizanur Rahman.

According to the information I have received from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Mr. Mohammad Manik, who was detained together with Mr. Mizanur Rahman under the custody of the Gulshan police until Mizan was killed, has described the incident how the police bargained with the detainees and extorted money and killed Mizan for failing to pay bribes. According to Manik’s account the police took both Manik and Mizan out of the police cell after the midnight. The two persons were taken in an open air and shot at one leg each and asked both of them to flee away. Mizan, who followed the instruction of the police, was shot on his other leg and Manik, who stayed back, was later transferred to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) where Mizan died due to extensive bleeding without adequate and timely treatment.

I have learned that a High Court Division Bench ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to probe three incidents of custodial deaths that consecutively occurred in the city of Dhaka within a week directing the Ministry not to include any police officer for maintaining impartiality of the investigation. But, the Ministry’s probe committee has not yet recorded any statement from any of the original eye-witnesses or the members of the deceased’s family.

While I am aware that the Ministry of Home Affairs that control the law-enforcement agencies with impunity and with absolute failure to hold the perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable in the past I question whether the same ministry is competent at all to conduct a credible investigation regarding state-sponsored abuses in Bangladesh?

According to the widow of the victim of extrajudicial death Mrs. Taslima Akther, she and her in-laws were taken to the offices of the police officers on several occasions where the police officers intimidated them for not to communicate with the media and human rights defenders. The police allegedly snatched Taslima’s personal cell phone after her husband’s death and provided another cell phone to keep her under surveillance by the law-enforcement agencies. The police allegedly engaged the local political activists of the ruling political party to insist Taslima and her in-laws not to raise their voice against the police officers whose job needs to be secured and in order to ensure the job of the police they offered two hundred thousand taka to Taslima’s family of which the AHRC has collected a document, which the police provided to Taslima.

I have also learned that the police officers forcibly took signatures and thumb prints from Taslima and her in-laws on a number of documents prepared by the police for the defence of their lawless actions. I am aware that in one occasions Taslima and her in-laws were taken to an unidentified person’s house around the midnight and there a person claiming to be a lawyer took thumbprints and signatures.

I am aware that the police issued a press release urging the country’s media not to publish further reports regarding the custodial deaths including the case of Mizan’s extrajudicial killing in the name of paying respect to the High Court Division Bench’s order. But, in reality, it continuously intimidated and harassed the family of Mizan and it clarifies that the press release was one of the attempts of the police to hide the fact relating to the lawless actions of the police.

I understand that the extent of vulnerability the families of the victims of state-sponsored abuses have to suffer in Bangladesh where there is no mechanism for the protection of witnesses. I observe that the orders and directives of the highest courts also become useless and do not contribute to the protection of the victims or help the judiciary to explore the truth regarding custodial violations and establishing justice as the other governmental institutions including the Ministry of Home Ministry remain incompetent and indifferent to uphold the rule of law and fundamental human rights of the citizens. The culture of impunity to the perpetrators must be stopped as a precondition of establishing justice in the Bangladeshi society.

In light of the above, I urge the Government of Bangladesh to initiate a thorough investigation into the allegation of extrajudicial murder of Mizanur Rahman by the Gulshan police by competent judicial officials for the sake of upholding the rule of law and justice in compliance with the constitutional provisions as well as international norms and standards. The ongoing harassment of Taslima, her family and other witnesses of the extrajudicial murder by the police and ruling party political activists must be stopped immediately. The victim’s family should be afforded with adequate compensation by ensuring justice and providing money. The perpetrators of the extrajudicial killing and subsequent intimidation and harassment must be brought to justice without any further delay.

The nation should immediately initiate thorough reforms in its criminal justice and the law-enforcement systems in order to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens. The judicial system must be capable of holding the police accountable and protect the ordinary citizens and the victims of human rights abuses.

I want to learn that you have taken prompt actions on this regard.

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
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 / +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. Prof. Mizanur Rahman
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. Hassan Mahmud Khandker
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 +880 2 717 6451 +880 2 717 6451 / +880 2 717 6677 +880 2 717 6677
E-mail: ig@police.gov.bd

8. A K M Shahidul Hoque
Dhaka Metropolitan Police
DMP Headquarter
36, Shahid Captain Monsur Ali Road
Ramna, Dhaka-1000
Fax: +880 2 8322746
Tel: +880 2 9331555/+880 2 8322746 +880 2
Mobile: +8801711538313
E-mail: complain@dmp.gov.bd / emergency@dmp.gov.bd / commissioner@dmp.gov.bd

Thank you.

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