Elite "death squad" Bangladesh force invites complaints

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2012 3:24 AM

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh's elite Rapid Action Battalion force, accused of extrajudicial killings and branded a death squad by Human Rights Watch, has opened a complaints bureau, a senior RAB official said Thursday, in a move to placate its critics.

The force was formed in 2004 and played a key role confronting Islamist militants responsible for a spate of bombings but has also been widely denounced for rights abuses.

Opposition political parties accuse the government of using the force to "eliminate" opponents. Last year, Human Rights Watch said Bangladesh must halt extrajudicial killings, torture and other abuses by the RAB, which it labeled a "death squad."

The United States would help train officers how to deal with "human issues" and complaints, said Walid Mohammad Saifullah, a deputy director of RAB, told Reuters.

Badiul Alam Majumder, an independent analyst and secretary of the rights group, Citizens for Good Governance, said the move was positive.

"We demand the findings by the cell are revealed to the public to make them credible," he said. "We hope this step will put a damper on the frenzy of extrajudicial killings and torture."

(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Writing by Anis Ahmed; Editing by Nick Macfie)