(29 May 2018) Human Rights groups in Bangladesh have raised concerns over a nationwide anti-drug crackdown after more than 60 suspected drug dealers were killed and over 3,000 suspects detained during the last few weeks.
The raids in various settlements continued over the weekend with police detaining at least 100 suspects, officials said.
The detentions came amid accusations that extrajudicial killings had taken place during the anti-drug drive.
The campaign was launched earlier this month on orders by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Bangladesh’s leading English-language Daily Star newspaper reported that a total of 63 people had been killed since the anti-drug drive began on May 4.
Other leading newspapers reported that some 3,000 people had been detained.
Officials and local media have said the deaths occurred in shootouts between security officials and suspects or during raids, but rights groups have called the killings extrajudicial.
The country’s main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has said many of its leaders and activists have been the target of the security agencies in the name of curbing the illegal drug trade.
Authorities have denied the allegations, saying they’re following a policy of zero tolerance in the fight against drugs.
The government has said many of the suspects have criminal charges against them.
Joint Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Mohammad Monirul Islam said addiction to narcotics is “a global threat like terrorism” and Bangladesh police had launched this drive to target the illegal trade.
On Saturday, security officials raided part of Dhaka’s Mohammedpur area , a crammed area known as one of the top spots for the selling of illegal drugs in Dhaka.
“No drug peddler will be spared,” said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion, adding that the drive will continue.
Domestic and global human rights groups have decried the campaign for the alleged extrajudicial killings.
Lawyer and human rights activist Sultana Kamal said on Tuesday that the security agencies must follow “the existing law and the constitutional directives” while taking action against the drug dealers.
The anti-drug campaign began amid a concern in Bangladesh about the spread of “yaba” pills, especially among youths.
Bangladesh does not produce the drug, which is made from caffeine and methamphetamine, and has blamed Myanmar for its production and the smuggling of it into the country through a porous border.
Kamal said many people were comparing the anti-drug drive in Bangladesh with the one in Philippines where thousands of drug suspects were killed in a violent war on illegal drugs waged by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“But I just hope that the Bangladesh will not go to that extent. They will restrain themselves before its goes too far,” she said.
The crackdown is expected to continue for a few more weeks.
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