Bangladesh: Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan still arbitrarily detained

16/08/2013
Urgent Appeal
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The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of the human rights non-governmental organisation Odhikar and a member of OMCT General Assembly[1].

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bangladesh.

New information:

According to the information received, on August 13, 2013, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was sent to Dhaka Central Jail by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrates Court (CMM), in accordance with the order issued by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on August 12 (see background information). Three hours later, he was transferred to Kashimpur Jail number 1, on the outskirts of Dhaka city. Although his lawyers applied for "division" in the jail, the application was summarily rejected[2]. The Observatory is concerned that this might be an indication that the judicial process against Mr. Khan might not be independent. Mr. Khan’s legal team now plans to appeal to the Sessions Court against the refusal of the application for “division”.

On August 15, Mr. Khan’s wife went to visit him. As Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan has not been granted division, he shares a cell with four other inmates. They have basic mattresses, which are riddled with bed bugs and share a toilet. Food is bought from the jail canteen with their own funds.

The Observatory reiterates its deepest concern about Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan’s arbitrary detention, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning his peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the authorities in Bangladesh to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity as well as to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Furthermore, the Observatory is concerned by information it received according to which the Government would be planning to close down Odhikar, accusing it of being an anti-State organisation. It is to be further feared that other members of Odhikar might be arrested in connection with the case filed against Mr. Khan, for interrogation, if it is required.

Accordingly, the Observatory urges the authorities of Bangladesh to put an end to the harassment against Odhikar, a prominent human rights NGO that since its inception in 1994 has been showing its commitments towards a just and proper cause of human rights. Activities of Odhikar include reporting, advocacy and fact-finding activities on violations considered “sensitive” - such as disappearances, torture, political violence, etc. As a result of these activities, Odhikar is under constant watch by the Government[3].

Background information:

On August 10, 2013, at 10.20 pm, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was arrested by eight or nine men in plain clothes who said they were of the Detective Branch of Police (DB) as he was returning at his Gulshan residence in Dhaka with his family. The men, who brought a white microbus apparently belonging to the United Commercial Bank and a blue and silver coloured mitsubishi pajero, asked Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan to follow them. They did not present any warrant of arrest and did not inform neither his family nor Mr. Rahman Khan why they were arresting him and where they were taking him.

On August 11, 2013, at 2:00 am, Odhikar defenders went to the Gulshan police, where the police present denied having any case against Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan and claimed that they learnt of his arrest from the media. Odhikar defenders also went to the DB office at 12:30 am on August 11, where the sentries denied them entry.

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police subsequently confirmed the arrest to the media, adding that Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan has been arrested under the Information and Communication Technology Act. The arrest was allegedly made on the basis of a general diary filed by the police with Gulshan police station, in relation to the fact-finding report issued by Odhikar about the killing of 61 people during an operation carried out on May 5-6, 2013 by law enforcement agencies against Hefazat-e Islam activists at the Dhaka’s downtown Motijheel area.

After Odhikar released on June 10, 2013 its fact-finding report on the human rights violations perpetrated at the Hefazat rally in Motijheel on May 5-6, 2013, the Information Ministry sent a letter to Odhikar on July 10, 2013 asking for the names, family names and addresses of the 61 deceased people. In its reply letter sent to the Information Ministry on July 17, 2013, and concerned for the security of victims’ families, Odhikar requested those concerned to form an independent impartial commission headed by a retired judge, where Odhikar is willing to submit the names of the 61 victims killed.

On August 11, 2013, at around 1.20 pm, Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was brought before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court (CMM), where the complaint against him was read by the Public Prosecutor. The complaint, which was only handed over to his lawyers after Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was presented before the Court, was signed by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. The police lodged two General Diaries against him on August 10, 2013, one (General Diary number 268, dated August 10) by the Detective Branch of Police (North) under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the other (General Diary number 514, dated August 10) by the Gulshan police station. Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan was also charged under clauses 1 and 2 of Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 for publishing false images and information and disrupting the law and order situation of the country. The complaint also alleges that there would be reasonable suspicion that Mr. Khan is also directly and indirectly liable for other cognizable offences. The Public Prosecutor sought a ten-day remand against Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan while his lawyers sought bail. The Magistrate, Judge Amit Kumar Dey, rejected the bail petition and placed Mr. Khan on a five-day remand for interrogation in connection with publishing a “false report” on casualties during a crackdown on a rally by the Islamist organisation Hefazat-e Islam on May 5-6, 2013. Mr. Khan was then taken back to the Office of the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police at 36 Minto Road, in Dhaka.

Furthermore, on August 11, 2013, the Odhikar office was searched by DB police between 8.20 pm and 9.00 pm. They inspected the files and documents and then seized three laptops and two CPUs from Odhikar’s office.

On August 12, 2013, the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh stayed the five-day remand order to interrogate Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan and asked police to send him to jail. 
The High Court however allowed the Detective Branch to interrogate Mr. Khan at the Dhaka Central Jail gate premises, if necessary.
The court passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by Mr. Khan, challenging the initiation of proceedings under Section 54 and the legality of the remand order granted by Judge Amit Kumar Dey of the CMM.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Bangladesh, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, of all Odhikar members as well as of all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

ii. Release Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, all members of Odhikar as well as all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as
- its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Bangladesh.

Addresses:

• Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Gona Bhaban, Old Sangsad Bhaban, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fax: +880 2 8113243, Email: info@pmo.gov.bd
• Mr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Minister for Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat Building 4, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: mkalamgir@yahoo.com; minister@mha.gov.bd;
• Barrister Shafique Ahmed, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: info@minlaw.gov.bd
• Mr. Hasanul Haq Inu, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Information, Building # 4 (8th floor), Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh. E-mail: minister@moi.gov.bd
• Mr. Hasan Mahmud Khandaker, Inspector General of Police, Police Headquarters, Phoenix Road, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh, Email : ig@police.gov.bd
• H.E. Mr. Abdul Hannan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva, 65 rue de Lausanne, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 738 46 16, E-mail: mission.bangladesh@ties.itu.int
• Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Brussels, 29-31 rue J. Jordaens, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 646 59 98; Email: bdootbrussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Bangladesh in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Bangladesh.

***
Geneva-Paris, August 16, 2013

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan has also been the Deputy Attorney General during the erstwhile four-party alliance government.

[2] If division had been granted, Mr. Khan would have been entitled to his own cell, a bed, and the privileges of using writing material and having a separate light, a chair and table, as per Chapter 35 of the Jail Code.

[3] See for instance Observatory Urgent Appeal BGD 001 / 0311 / OBS 039, issued on March 22, 2011.

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