Bangladesh: Rafique Al Islam, researcher

Re: Rafique Al Islam, researcher

To: Prime Minister of Bangladesh

From: Catherine, A. Morris, BA, LLB, LLM

Date: 2004-09-01

We are writing to advise you and seek your assistance regarding the reported arrest and detention of Mr. Rafique al Islam on August 21, 2004. We understand that he was arrested at his home in Cox’s Bazaar at 2:30 PM on Saturday, 21 August, by military officers of the newly formed Rapid Action Battalion. We have not been able to obtain any information concerning the charges against Mr. Rafique al Islam. Our current information is that no reason for his detention has been provided, despite repeated requests for information. We also understand that an arraignment hearing was to be held on August 29, 2004, but that without notice to his lawyer or his family, the hearing was held on August 28, 2004. This meant there was no opportunity to prepare for appropriate defence. We understand that on August 28, a district judge remanded Mr. Rafique al Islam for five days into the custody of the Rapid Action Battalion for interrogation purposes and that another hearing is to be held later this week.

Mr. Rafique al Islam is the Coordinator of the Treaty Implementation and Victim Assistance Working Group for Bangladesh, a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). This organization is highly respected for its work internationally, and we also understand that Mr. Rafique al Islam’s work has been highly respected, and that he has worked in cooperation with public officials. Thus, Mr. al Islam’s arrest is very surprising. What is particularly surprising are reports that no information is available as to the reason for his arrest.

We wish to point out that Bangladesh has signed and ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). We remind you of Bangladesh’s international obligations to ensure that Mr. Al Islam is treated fairly and humanely. We remind you that Bangladesh is a signatory of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

LRWC is now very concerned for the well being of Mr. Al Islam. Therefore, we are seeking your urgent assistance, and we request that you insisting that all relevant officials abide by the laws of Bangladesh as well as its international obligations under the ICCPR. In particular, we request that Mr. Rafique al Islam be provided immediate access to a lawyer and his family members, and that he be informed as on the reason for the arrest, any charges against him, reasons for his continued detention, in addition to being kept informed on where he is being. We request that all relevant public officials at all levels be instructed immediately to abide by their responsibilities impartially and strictly according to the law.

LRWC also urges that you insist on the immediate release of Mr. Rafique al Islam unless he is immediately charged with an internationally recognizable offence, given adequate opportunities for a defence under the law, and brought to a fair trial in keeping with international standards.

We hope you will respond to this letter as quickly as possible to advise us of what actions your office is taking in this matter. Thank you for your attention to this matter.