Radio Sweden pierce on RAB
Allegations of torture and extrajudicial killing made against RAB in a report by Radio Sweden would be investigated, a RAB spokesperson yesterday told the Media. But he expressed doubts about the veracity of the report.
The Radio Sweden report, published on its website on April 4, is based on a taped conversation with an alleged high-ranking Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) officer
The elite force official also questioned whether the informant quoted in the report was a RAB official and added that if he were, he should be prosecuted.
RAB Legal and Media Wing Director Mufti Mahmud Khan said: “Radio Sweden’s report is unclear. They have published news based on the recorded conversation of a so-called RAB official. If a real RAB official has actually said such things, then legal actions should be taken against him. There are also various gaps in the story; many vague terms have been used.
Mufti added: “RAB always operates within the law. Sometimes we conduct operations to capture petty criminals, dacoits, terrorists or militants and in those cases, when RAB officials come under fire, they need to defend themselves by returning fire.
“Irrespective of this, since the issue has come to light, we will definitely look into the matter.”
The informant unwittingly tells Radio Sweden of abductions, the preparation of kill lists and the murder of individuals targeted for execution by the force. He details the brutal methods employed by RAB during these operations. He also describes how weapons are planted near the victim’s remains to give the impression that RAB members acted in self-defence.
“Sometimes during the exchange of fire, people die. During these drives, many RAB officials have also been injured and maimed and some have even died. The bottom line is that RAB has caught a lot of criminals over the span of its career. Over the course of its career, there have been many attempts made to tarnish its reputation.”
Local and international rights groups have accused RAB of abducting and murdering several hundred people. They allege that the elite force enjoys impunity for such killings and have repeatedly demanded that the “death squad” be disbanded.
A report by human rights watchdog Ain o Salish Kendra said between January 1 and March 14 this year, RAB killed six people in gunfights or crossfires.
Responding to queries about the report, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said: “We have learned about this after it was reported in various news media. If these allegations are true, then the matter should definitely be investigated and the culprits should be punished.
“I think the government should conduct an investigation into the allegations. If anyone is found to be guilty of such actions, then they should take measures to punish them.”
“Since this report originated in the Swedish media, we cannot know all the facts for sure. If we can verify that the source is legitimate, we can then investigate the allegations raised in the report. If it appears that human rights have truly been violated, then we will approach the authorities concerned to take action.