UN Experts: ‘Still No Justice’ 10 Years after Bangladesh Journalist-Couple’s Murder

Ahammad Foyez
2022.02.11
Dhaka
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UN Experts: ‘Still No Justice’ 10 Years after Bangladesh Journalist-Couple’s Murder Media persons stage a rally on the 10th anniversary of the killing of a journalist couple Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi, in Dhaka, Feb. 11, 2022
[BenarNews]

United Nations human rights experts expressed “deep concern” on Friday that no one has been charged in the brutal killings of a journalist couple in Dhaka exactly 10 years ago.

The experts also noted that the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the elite security force which had been tasked with investigating the killing of Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi, had failed to meet more than 80 court deadlines to submit findings.

“A decade after the killing of the two journalists, there is still no justice as a result of an appalling and pervasive culture of impunity in Bangladesh,” the U.N. experts said in a statement released from Geneva.

“When crimes against journalists go unpunished, they embolden the perpetrators and encourage more attacks, threats and killings with the intention of intimidating the media into silence. We see those deeply worrying signs in Bangladesh,” the experts said. 

Sagar, news editor of the Maasranga TV station, and Runi, a senior correspondent at TV station ATN Bangla, were found dead with stab wounds inside their fourth floor apartment in the West Rajabazar neighborhood of Dhaka on the morning of Feb. 11, 2012.

Their then-6-year-old son, Mahir Sarwar Megh, was found unhurt.

Last month, after RAB’s 85th missed deadline, a Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court asked the force to submit its probe report in the case by Feb. 23.

RAB, meanwhile, defended itself on Friday, saying it had recorded the statements of 160 witnesses and sent the evidence it had gathered to the United States for further examination.

“The investigation officer is probing all the angles of the case with professionalism,” RAB media wing director Commander Khandaker Al Moin said at a press conference.

“We are informing the court from time to time and the court is giving time to our investigator based on the updated information to carry out the probe properly. … We received some information from the U.S. We are analyzing it. We hope we can finish the investigation soon.”

Law Minister Anisul Huq said the government was sincere about the investigation into the killing of the journalist couple.

“Investigative agencies concerned are working in this regard. I am requesting all concerned to share data with the agencies if they have any,” he told BenarNews.

On Friday, meanwhile, the Bangladesh journalists’ community demanded that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina intervene to speedily solve the case. They held a protest rally in the capital to mark 10 years of the brutal killing of Sagar and Runi.

“Law enforcers in Bangladesh have cracked many clueless cases, but they have failed to complete an investigation into the journalist couple’s murder case,” said Dhaka Union of Journalists President Quddus Afrad.

“There must be some obstacle in the way of the investigation. The court must act now.”

The U.N. experts said at least 15 journalists had been killed in Bangladesh in the past decade.

“The incidents appear to be rarely investigated or prosecuted. In some cases, local authorities are thought to be directly implicated in the attacks,” the experts’ statement said.

“Allegations brought to the attention of the government of Bangladesh by the U.N. experts often have gone unanswered. No response was ever received from the government to a letter sent by UN experts following the murder of Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi in 2012.”

They described a grim reality for media persons in Bangladesh.

“Journalism should not carry the inherent risk of being attacked, intimidated or killed with impunity but unfortunately that is the current reality for many journalists, human rights defenders and other members of civil society in Bangladesh,” the experts said.

“We urge the government to conduct and complete prompt, thorough, independent and effective investigations and bring perpetrators to justice for the murder of Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi and other killings of journalists and human rights defenders in Bangladesh.”

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