Chittagong Hill Tracts: Authorities Strive Against Impunity
On the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the abduction of indigenous women leader Kalpana Chakma, the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) condemned the way the investigation of this crime is being conducted. The investigators bizarrely declared that the inquiry could not continue until Ms Chakma, still missing, is found, as she is the key witness. According to member of the CHTC Sultana Kamal, "in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, most people involved with oppression and abduction of indigenous women enjoy impunity."
Below is an article published by The Daily Star:
International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) yesterday called "absurd" the claim of investigators that indigenous women's leader Kalpana Chakma herself was the key witness to her abduction and hence the probe cannot be completed until she is found.
“This type of logic is institutionalising the culture of impunity,” said Iftekharuzzaman, a member of the commission. At one point, investigators of all abduction or forced disappearance cases would come up with similar arguments, he feared, while addressing the press marking the 19th anniversary of Kalpana's abduction, at the capital's Jatiya Press Club.
Since she was abducted from her Baghaichhari house in Rangmati on June 11, 1996, the case was reinvestigated several times. The deadline for submission of the latest investigation report was reset 22 times since January 16, 2013, says a statement of CHTC. A progress report on the investigation, submitted to a Rangamati court last year, reads, “Since the key witness of the case is the victim herself…the investigation of the case cannot be completed until she is found.” The report further underscored the necessity of a final decision on Kalpana's status for concluding the investigation.
Another member of CHTC, Sultana Kamal, said three investigation reports had been submitted to the court so far. “After analysing the reports, it becomes evident that the reports were essentially the same.”
She said the investigation reports were bound to have inconsistencies, as they were written without following the reality.
“In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, most people involved with oppression and abduction of indigenous women enjoy impunity. Hoping for justice, many cases like the Kalpana Chakma abduction case have been under process for years. But this impunity and the culture devoid of justice encourage criminals to commit crimes repeatedly,” she added.
The commission demanded creation of a monitoring cell by the home ministry to speed up the investigation into Kalpana's abduction case and extensive interrogation of the people who were accused by her family.
Photo courtesy of The Daily Star.