Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz has published two research reports on the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Bangladesh.  

Executions at Will? Extrajudicial killings by state actors in Bangladesh” examines the incidents of extrajudicial killings between January 2019 and December 2021. The report draws on a unique dataset developed for the project from various sources including seven national newspapers. The report found that there have been 591 cases reported in the press during this period. This makes the total number of deaths to 4,044 since 2001. This project gathered details, including names, dates, place of incidents, and the alleged law enforcement agency involved.

According to the report, the Detective Branch (DB) of the police and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were reported to be the alleged major perpetrators. Police, including the DB (48.05 percent) and the RAB (31.90 percent) have been alleged to have perpetrated these killings. The report noted that the killings are violations of the Bangladeshi constitution and Bangladesh’s commitment to several international covenants.  

Where are they? Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh” examines the number of incidents where the law enforcement agencies have been alleged to have picked up individuals without due legal process. The study covers the three-year period (January 2019-Decmeber 2021) and found that at least 71 incidents have been reported by families, friends, and witnesses that individuals have become victims of enforced disappearances. Among them, of the 71 cases of enforced disappearances, 16 victims are still missing (22.53 percent), five found dead (7.04 percent). Twenty-two (30.98 percent) have been arrested, detained, or jailed.

Data about the professions of 51 individuals gathered under this project show that politicians and businessmen are the largest number of victims—11 each (15.49 percent). Eight students (11.26 percent) constitute the third largest group of victims. Five individuals involved with Islamic education, preaching, and clerical jobs have also been subjected to enforced disappearances (7.04 percent).  

These reports are published by the Bangladeshi think tank, Centre for Governance Studies. Both reports have made several recommendations to address these practices. 

The government of Bangladesh has always denied any extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and involvement of law enforcement agencies. In December 2021, the U.S. Treasury department imposed sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion and seven of its former and current officers for serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.