Emory International Law Review


When the South Asian nation of Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation on December 16, 1971, the founding fathers sought to establish a liberal democracy that would uphold the rule of law and the fundamental human rights of individuals. To this end, they incorporated extensive guarantees, including safeguarding the enforcement of an impressive eighteen fundamental rights, in the Constitution of Bangladesh of 1972. However, this Article will demonstrate that after almost fifty years of independence, the promise of a liberal democracy has remained elusive in Bangladesh due to the frequent violation of human rights through extrajudicial killings as a convenient means of maintaining power. Although successive governments have resorted to extrajudicial killings, the current government of the Bangladesh Awami League, which has ruled the nation uninterruptedly for the past twelve and a half years, has gone further than all previous governments in resorting to such killings to suppress any threat to its aspiration of perpetuating power. The regime’s contempt for the human rights of individuals is further evident from the fact that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not shied away from resorting to extrajudicial killings to put down its adversaries. This Article will put forward recommendations for ensuring the realization of the elusive promise of a liberal democracy on which the nation was founded.