Constitutional Provisions

Under Bangladesh's 1986 Constitution (as amended): "The Republic shall be a democracy in which fundamental human rights and freedoms and respect for the dignity and worth of the human person shall be guaranteed...." It is stipulated that:  

To enjoy the protection of the law, and to be treated in accordance with law, and only in accordance with law, is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Bangladesh, and in particular no action detrimental to the life, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law.Art. 31, 1986 Constitution of Bangladesh (as amended).

It is also provided that: "No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty save in accordance with law."Art. 32, 1986 Constitution of Bangladesh (as amended).Furthermore, "No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment."Art. 35(5), 1986 Constitution of Bangladesh (as amended).With respect to the right of peaceful assembly:

Every citizen shall have the right to assemble and to participate in public meetings and processions peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of public order health.Art. 37, 1986 Constitution of Bangladesh (as amended).

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties

1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

State Party

Regional Treaties

There is no regional Asian human rights treaty to which Bangladesh could become party.

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Under the 1898 Code of Criminal Procedure, if a person "forcibly resists the endeavour to arrest him, or attempts to evade the arrest, such police officer or other person may use all means necessary to effect the arrest." It is also provided, however, that this does not grant "a right to cause the death of a person who is not accused of an offence punishable with death or with [imprisonment for life]."S. 46, 1898 Code of Criminal Procedure.Section 50 of the 1898 Code prohibits an arrested person from being subjected "to more restraint than is necessary to prevent his escape."

With respect to assemblies, an officer in charge of a police station may disperse an unlawful assembly by force, and, if necessary for "public security" that it be dispersed, the Police Commissioner in a Metropolitan Area "may cause it to be dispersed by military force".Ss. 128 and 129, 1898 Code of Criminal Procedure.

The use of firearms is governed by outdated regulations that do not conform to international law and standards. According to Regulation 153(a):

The use of firearms is permitted for the following purposes only:

In exercise of the right of private defence of person or property. (Sections 96—I06, Indian Penal Code)
For the dispersal of unlawful assemblies. (Sections 127-128. Criminal Procedure Code)
To effect an arrest in certain circumstances. (Section 46, Criminal Procedure Code.

Police use of firearms to protect property is not permissible, nor is the use of firearms to disperse unlawful assemblies.

Police Oversight

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which was established under the 2009 Human Rights Commission Act, has oversight over police use of force but its powers are limited to requesting reports from the Ministry of Home Affairs on alleged violations.

Caselaw

Global

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Bangladesh, the Human Rights Committee identified the functioning and fulfillment of the mandate of the National Human Rights Commission as a particular concern on the basis that the Commission "may not have a broad enough mandate to investigate all alleged human rights violations, including those involving State actors such as the police, military and security forces". The Human Rights Committee called on Bangladesh to

broaden the mandate of the Commission and allow it to investigate all alleged human rights violations, including those committed by State military and security actors. The State party should also provide the Commission with sufficient financial and human resources to allow it to impartially and independently fulfil its mandate in line with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles).” 

On extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, the Committee expressed its concern 

at the reported high rate of extrajudicial killings by police officers, soldiers and Rapid Action Battalion force members and at reports of enforced disappearances, as well as the excessive use of force by State actors. The Committee is also concerned that the lack of investigations and accountability of perpetrators leave families of victims without information and redress. It is further concerned that domestic law does not effectively criminalize enforced disappearances, and that the State party does not accept that enforced disappearances occur....

The Committee recommended that Bangladesh should:

(a) Take immediate measures to protect the right to life of all persons;

(b) Revise its legislation to limit the use of force by law enforcement officials, the military and special forces, incorporating international standards, including the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and ensure accountability for violations;

(c) Effectively criminalize enforced disappearance;

(d) Investigate all cases of arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances and excessive use of force, prosecute and punish convicted perpetrators with appropriate sanctions and provide full reparation to the victims. In cases of disappearances, the State party should establish the truth about the fate and whereabouts of victims and ensure that victims of enforced disappearance and their relatives are informed about the outcome of investigations;

(e) Provide in its next periodic report information on: (i) The number of investigations conducted; (ii) Convictions secured; (iii) Disaggregated information on penalties that have been imposed on perpetrators.

Regional

There is no regional human rights court with jurisdiction to review police use of force in Bangladesh.

Downloads

1986 Constitution (as amended)

1898 Code of Criminal Procedure

Police Regulations

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Bangladesh (2017)