A peaceful social order is the key to stability and development of a country. Laws are formulated to bring in such an order. The present world has been facing militancy, terrorism, extremism, violation of human rights and crimes against humanity in its various parts. Nomenclature, gravity and manifestation of all these inhuman activities vary from country to country.
The law and order situation in Bangladesh is better than that of many parts of the world. Still some local and international human rights organisations in their reports, as published in newspapers, do not depict a comfortable condition in the country. The authorities, however, usually contradict their reports and views.
Reports of adverse human rights situation give a bad image of a country. As a result, foreigners, particularly investors, may feel discouraged to visit Bangladesh either as tourists or businessmen or investors. There is apparently a sense of insecurity among people in general. Such a situation does not bode well for a democratic polity.
When viewers see scrolls on the TV screen, they find multifarious incidents of violence including killings that speak of lawlessness on one hand and social disorder, on the other. These incidents do not conform to the nature and character of peace-loving Bangalees.
The rights watchdog Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) released a report titled 'Statistical Report on Violation of Human Rights: January-March 2017' which was published in national dailies on April 01, 2017. The report alleged that 44 were killed in 'shootouts' in three months, 12 people picked up by law enforcement agencies, 12 killed in political violence, 12 died in prisons, 12 slain in mass beatings, 94 women killed in domestic and dowry-related violence, 72 children killed by torture, three people shot dead along Bangladesh-India border and 15 others were picked up by India's BSF. Moreover, 93 women were raped and at least, five were killed after being violated. Ninety one women became victims of abuses. Reports had it that at least 22 journalists were tortured, harassed and threatened while they were carrying out their professional duties. This quarterly report focussed only about one-fourth of such incidents of violence that occurred in 2016. Let us hope that the frequency of violence or violation of human rights would be drastically lessened in the year 2017.
Concerned people say that a sense of deprivation, injustice and insecurity prevails in a society where human rights are violated. This results in vengeance and even leads to militancy and terrorism. Such a sentiment has been voiced by Martin Changong, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) secretary general, in Dhaka on April 03. He attended the five-day 136th IPU assembly in Dhaka. He said, "Violent extremism is born out of frustration, inequality in the society, injustice, violation of human rights and lack of opportunity". It is to be noted that the IPU assembly in Dhaka gave stress on democracy and human rights.
Political scientists always plead for protecting human rights, enriching democracy and establishing the rule of law. Democracy and repression can not go together. Civil society, political thinkers, jurists and journalists should find out the reasons and suggest remedies as to why a large number of people disappear in Bangladesh, why there are extra-judicial killings and why there is violence against women and children. They should also find out why teachers are assaulted and why some of them are also involved in the leakage of question papers. It should also be found out why some youths are addicted to drugs and why some youths are involved in militancy.
There are, however, some common notions about disorderly situation prevailing in the society. First, the education system is failing to deliver moral education. Second, there is absence of accountability in governance including law enforcement. Third, behaviour of some politicians is not praiseworthy. Fourth, political parties do not get level playing field. Fifth, there is lack of inclusiveness in politics and economic activities. Sixth, there is a huge number of unemployed people in the country. Seventh, inequality in income and standard of life is widening. Eight, common people do not get friendly treatment from law-enforcers. Ninth, local government institutions cannot play their due roles. Tenth, the administration has been politicised. One can add other factors too.
All these scenarios call for appropriate interventions. Let us try to develop and build an orderly society where people will live together in peace without any fear and discrimination upholding human rights.
The writer is a former Secretary to GOB and economist.