Accounting for those gone missing

Accounting for those gone missing

The Daily Star   26 May 2019

Whose responsibility is it?

Between 2009 and 2018, since the Awami League government came to office, 507 people have become victims of enforced disappearances, according to the International Federation for Human Rights. This is an extremely disconcerting statistic, especially because most of the families of those who have been victims of enforced disappearances have claimed, over this entire period, that law enforcing agencies were behind the disappearances. And in many cases, they said they were present when it happened and saw plainclothes men claiming to be law enforcers pick up their near ones.

Law enforcing agencies, of course, have denied all such allegations. But even if we do give them the benefit of the doubt, the fact remains that it is the state that is responsible for the security of its citizens—and should prevent people from being picked up in the first place. And if it somehow fails to do that, law enforcers should at least record cases of enforced disappearances—which they have refused to do on many occasions—and investigate them properly and bring those responsible to justice. Yet, almost no one has been held accountable so far. And those who have returned miraculously have unfortunately refused to say anything because they were so afraid and traumatised by their experiences.

The entire situation is a sad commentary on the state of governance in Bangladesh. And what has happened to those people is a genuine question for their family members to ask—and for the administration to find out and answer.

The grief-stricken families of those who are missing deserve better, as do any and all citizens of this country. It is for the administration to assume responsibility of these cases—if nothing else but for the credibility of state agencies—and get to the bottom of the matter.