First of all we have to decide whether we want an oppressive society or a society based on justice. The law enforcement agencies responsible for keeping the law and order situation under control have the right to use firearms. But it is important to see if they are using the firearms responsibly. The point is, justice cannot be established through terror.
Articles 31 to 35 of the constitution clearly state what the character of the state forces will be, which court will prosecute for any crime, what will be the punishment of any crime, etc. Can we do without them?
It is said that members of the various forces are using firearms for self-defense or to control the law and order situation. The ammunition are bought with the tax money we, the people, pay.
Theoretically they have to use it with our approval. There are certain rules of using firearms and I don’t know how much they are being followed.
I agree that keepers of the law have the right to defend themselves. However there are a number of allegations of wrong-doings and crimes against them. Are these allegations being investigated? Last year, Teknaf's municipal councilor Ekramul Haque was killed at the beginning of an anti-drug campaign. The incident still remains unsolved. There was no proper investigation.
It is but natural that the person responsible to tackle crime will use the opportunity in his own interest if he is exempted on the question of morality.
I want to discuss about the Narayanganj seven-murder in this context. No one would have known that so many people had been killed in such way if the bodies did not float. We are not sure what is happening.
We are saying it from 2004 that terrorism cannot fight terrorism. This is certainly not the way to establish justice. The concept of institutional justice would not have developed if there was such a 'shortcut' and reliable path to establish justice. Then issues like law-court, court of justice, justice for the victims or opportunity for defendants to defend themselves would not have mattered.
Crossfire or gunfight does not support the law and judicial system we have adopted to contain crimes. It contradicts the idea of justice. If we want to build a society based on justice, policies and laws have to be like that. The state forces should follow those laws, too.
My concern as a human rights activist is that the weapons are not being used in a moral and legal way. The state is using the power with a special aim. We have given the power to the government and we have to ask whether it is abusing the power or not. It is because we are not getting clear or transparent information all the time.
* Sultana Kamal, former adviser to a caretaker government, is now the chairman of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB)