The aim of any justice system is to make sure that no innocent person gets punished for crimes he or she did not commit
SHAMIM A. ZAHEDY
Indeed, it is a sad day for Bangladesh when some lawmakers, who are pledge-bound to uphold justice for people, advocate on the very floor of parliament extrajudicial means to ensure what they call justice. This is plainly unlawful.
Some high-profile members of parliament both from the treasury and the opposition benches on January 14, 2020 made a ‘clarion’ call to execute rape suspects through ‘crossfire’, which they clearly know is an extrajudicial way to stop the spate of rape incidents in recent times.
Initiating the issue of rape incidents, Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu queried when the government was ‘putting people on crossfire’ as part of its fight against illegal drugs, why was it not going for ‘a single instance of crossfire in the case of rape’?
Another Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid believes that the extrajudicial killing, or crossfire in this particular case, is the only solution to elimination of rape incidents in Bangladesh.
“When you’ll go to court to try the rapist, you won’t get any witness. Therefore, you’ll have to go for [police] encounter to get this society rid of the rape menace,” news media quoted Rashid as telling the parliament.
Rashid also applied the old tactic, posing a popular question to people who oppose killing in police encounter: “What will you do if you or your mother or sister becomes a victim of rape?” However, this kind of question is asked when it comes to capital punishment or death sentence coming from judicial system.
During 1988 US presidential campaign Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis, who had been a staunch advocate for abolishing death penalty, was asked: What would he do if Dukakis’ wife was raped and murdered by criminals? Would Dukakis still oppose capital punishment?
Unfortunately, Kazi Firoz Rashid’s logic is really brazen. A lawmaker is asking for illegal means to right a wrong!
A veteran parliamentarian such as Tofail Ahmed also joined the bandwagon. “It is correct that we need to have a tougher law. But if we can take instant actions through crossfire in the case of drug-related issues, why can’t we follow it in the case of rapists?”
“The man whom we know has committed this act (rape) doesn’t have any right to live in this world anymore,” Ahmed was quoted as saying. Unless and until a person is proven guilty by a court of law, he or she is innocent. So, the suggestion ‘only remedy to rape menace is killing the rapist in crossfire after taking his confessional statement’ is devoid of any reason and questions the very foundation of the justice system of Bangladesh.
The lawmakers dwelled on the lengthy and somewhat cumbersome process to punish criminals especially rapists. Yes, it is true one has to go to court to try rapists, one has to get witnesses, one has to wait and wait to get justice. The reality is it is the duty of the judicial system to punish the offenders while police is only a part of the justice system.
The aim of jurisprudence is to make sure that no innocent person gets punished for crimes he or she did not commit. It is the duty of the judicial system that there is no miscarriage of justice, meaning that a innocent person is not convicted and punished mistakenly.
There is a famous dictum: ‘Let hundred guilty be acquitted but one innocent should not be convicted’. The lawmakers should take note of this famous adage that demonstrates the basic principle of jurisprudence.
The lawmakers in question in the parliament often referred to ‘crossfire’ incidents in the drive against drug peddlers to stop drug menace. But did the drive help curb drug peddling?
In late May 2018, a ward councillor of Teknaf municipality and local Awami League leader, Ekramul Haque, was killed in what the law enforcers claimed was a “gunfight” between law enforcers and drug peddlers in Cox’s Bazar.
Did Ekramul Haque get any opportunity to prove his innocence?
Any failure to identify the culprits without the due legal process will lead to erosion in the rule of law, which might eventually result in lawlessness.
Every citizen has the right to protection of law. Bangladesh constitution states, “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.”
The writer is the Executive Editor of The Independent
First appeared : 16 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 16 January, 2020 12:28:42 AM