Amnesty International said Wednesday that torture at the hands of the security forces was endemic in Bangladesh and had resulted in the deaths of scores of people since the country's independence in 1971.
The global rights watchdog appealed to the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed -- which ratified the Convention Against Torture in 1998 -- to put an end to years of human rights violations and to end impunity for the perpetrators.
"Widespread and persistent torture has been routinely ignored by successive governments and major political parties since Bangladesh's independence in 1971," Amnesty said in a report released in Dhaka as part of its global 'Campaign Against Torture.'
"For too long torture has been accepted as normal behavior by governments" despite being prohibited under the country's constitution.
"Torture should not be accepted as a necessary act or part of life -- it is a rights violation. The government should take up the challenge to make a difference in Bangladesh by ending years of endemic torture."
The report said methods of torture ranged from beating with rifle butts, iron rods, bamboo sticks, to the "water treatment", in which hose pipes are fixed into each nostril and the taps are then turned on full for two minutes at a time.
And victims of torture in Bangladesh included children, women, the elderly, political dissidents, criminal suspects and innocent bystanders, it added.
"Scores have died in custody as a result of torture" in the past 30 years, the international watchdog said, adding that local rights group Adhikar had documented 49 deaths in the first nine months of the year.
Amnesty appealed to the government to ensure that all Bangladeshis, and not just those with money, were protected from being tortured.
"Anyone can be tortured and it is usually only the politically well-connected who get any protection. The government should take determined action to protect everyone -- not a just a select few."
According to the Amnesty, police officers privately admit that torture does occur, but blame their actions on low income levels.
The majority of torture cases involved police forcing people to confess crimes they hadn't committed, the watchdog said, adding that politicians were also guilty of arranging for political opponents to be tortured.
Amnesty urged the government to ensure that all allegations of torture were thoroughly and impartially investigated and the perpetrators punished – DHAKA (AFP)
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