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Custodial Deaths and Human Rights Issues

Whenever we proceed through daily newspapers or news on broadcast media or internet, one of the most frequent topics we can find is deaths in custody. This is something that we reach hear about most often from people surrounding us, and it's been happening for a while, not only in a particular country or region, but in the whole world. However, many people is dying in custody each year. The deaths while in custody remains an extremely controversial topic as it is believed that the key reasons of these deaths are kept in darkness from the planet. These deaths is actually a regular subject for the people responsible for the custody, but bring a significant issue in the limelight which is the gross violation of human rights. According to the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), "If the state eliminates a person's liberty, it assumes full responsibility for protecting their human rights. Probably the most fundamental of these is the right to life. " Once we proceed through this paper, we will discuss more about custodial deaths and its effect on international law and human rights.

Custodial deaths are referred to those deaths, while in custody of the authorities, prison service, or other authorities. The sources of these deaths or we can say that the custody authorities are often accused of abuse, cover-ups, racism and neglect. A few examples of custodial deaths are Operation Clean Heart by the federal government of Bangladesh in which a minimum of 32 people died; death around 100 prisoners in USA custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002; with least 650 individuals were killed in Jamaica by the authorities officers in 1999 that have been all unlawful killings, but none of them were convicted since then.

Human Rights:

Human rights are "rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled". These rights protect us from severe political, legal, and social abuses. A few examples of human rights will be the to freedom of religion, the to a fair trial when charged with a crime, the right not to be tortured, the to take part in political activity, and the right to life. All these rights are protected for legal reasons for the wellbeing of a society. These rights, if violated, can lead to severe consequences or penalties if proved guilty to the sovereign authority.

Human Rights against Custodial Deaths:

The most fundamental part of human rights is the right to life. This type of human rights which protect people detained by the state of hawaii falls under the law of Human Rights Act 1998. A death penalty or even custodial deaths violate these rights according to numerous human rights activists from throughout the world. A state ensures protection of its people enforced by law. They have more responsibility in regards to a person's protection when they take them into custody in doubts of unlawful acts. Therefore, whenever a person dies in custody, it raises a major human rights issue.

Besides individuals who are serving whole-life sentences, many others die in custody. These custodial deaths maybe caused due to natural causes or diseases, attacks by other prisoners, self-infliction, third-degree tortures while in remand, and a great many other reasons. Many of those people who die in custody are held on remand in either police custody or prison for doubts of unlawful acts, and are convicted of no criminal offence. They are serious violations of human rights as every individual has the right to life, which is protected by the state of hawaii and these deaths "are not" enforced by law.

Custodial Death and Human Rights Concerns around the World:

In Bangladesh, a huge battalion of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) killed more than seventy army officers yet others dead in February 25 and 26, 2009. From then on, most soldiers of Bangladesh Rifles were held in prisons as suspects for the massacre. More than a thousand soldiers including twenty civilians were detained, and the others are still in the police custody. From a statement of the Bangladesh Rifles on April 23, 2009, it was said that "Sixteen detainees have died in custody - four from suicide, six from heart attacks, and six from other diseases. " But Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said that he couldn't find a solid reason for which the detainees have committed suicide, and therefore, he has urged the government for taking immediate actions to avoid such deaths in custody.

From credible sources in Bangladesh, reports were found by the Human Rights Watch on torture of detainees while they were in custody. Among the suspects told that he was tortured with electric shocks for seven days by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Following the death of another suspect, a family member said that he was in health before taken into custody and has no reason of sudden death. In a very medical report of the dead suspect, wounds of torture were inflicted, that your authority denied by saying that the wounds may have been caused while they were trying to escape following a rebellion.

Adams said these explanations are not credible which "torture is a normal 'investigation technique' in Bangladesh and killing of detainees in custody can be an endemic problem. " The detained suspects have been denied access to family and legal professionals generally.

In Vietnam, Human Rights Watch reported that they have received nineteen documents of brutality cases in twelve months till September 2010, which resulted in deaths of fifteen people. Deaths in custody were reported from major cities in Vietnam which includes provoked the public protestant in the country and raised serious concerns.

In a few cases, the detainees died due to massive beatings while in custody of the authorities or civil defense force, and in other cases, people died in public areas where in fact the police used excessive forces. In many cases, detainees are taken into custody and killed for minor violations of law.

In June 30, 2010, a person died in police custody after being detained carrying out a dispute with his mother. In another case, which was on July 23, 2010, a man was arrested for riding a motorbike with out a helmet. He was then taken is custody for questioning and hours later, it was reported that he died. It has raised serious concerns in Vietnam for such a custodial death.

In each one of these nineteen incidents in just twelve months time, not really a single involved officer was convicted by the neighborhood court for their actions. There have been major protests by the media as the government has high restrictions and control over their local press. Just a few police officers have been detained or suspended, which was caused due to media exposure of the incidents and severe protests from the general public. Unless the federal government shows serious concerns regarding such human rights issues, it is very uncertain that such killings can ever be stopped.

In Afghanistan, a soldier named Jamal Nasser died in March 16, 2003 while in custody of america Army. After eighteen months of his death, it was reported that his death attributed to a kidney infection. Later on, investigations discovered that the reason was just a fiction. According to Senator Patrick Leahy, "The detainee, Jamal Naseer, died in March 2003, allegedly after weeks of torture by American soldiers. Because the Special Forces unit that reportedly manipulated the detention facility failed to report the death, it was never investigated. This incident is very troubling alone, but, like so many other incidents we have discovered, it points to a much larger problem. The U. S. Army Criminal Investigation Command received a tip about Naseer's death earlier this year, but could not investigate the matter due to a lack of information. " An army detective at Bagram Airbase told the LA Times that we now have no records that they weren't able to conclude the investigation process.

Human Rights Law:

There are extensive human rights law assigned by the sovereign authority for the wellness of any society by ensuring the safety of each individual. The law which concerns with the deaths in custody is Article 2 from the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), The Human Rights Act 1998, which states that:

"1. Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one will be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of your sentence of your court following his conviction of your crime that this penalty is provided by law.

2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is only absolutely necessary:

(a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;

(b) to be able to effect a lawful arrest or even to avoid the escape of a person lawfully detained;

(c) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection. "

Article 2 obviously provides that the state should not deprive you you will ever have, except in not a lot of circumstances. According to the article, whenever someone is killed by a police, army or prison officer, the incident will usually connect to "right to life". In that circumstance, investigations will be called and failing in the investigation as a result of a state official may very well be a breach of Article 2.


Many people have been killed and remain being killed while in custody of the state officials in nearly every country. The state is in charge of the protection of its every single single individual and those violating laws will be detained or punished following the consequences has been sanctioned by the bigger authority. But any type of custodial deaths are unlawful as every human has the to life, plus they can't be punished unless they are simply proved guilty. Custodial deaths are categorized as the Human Rights Act 1998, Article 2 which states that custodial deaths should be investigated and when not done, then it would be a breach of law. After studying this paper, we are able to conclude that custodial deaths have become a worldwide human rights issue and these deaths are gross violation of Human Rights. The state of hawaii must take all necessary steps to be able to avoid deaths in custody, ensure that every individual is well protected by law, and only people proved guilty are punished or detained. Success in preventing will lead to the health of the society.

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