Bangladesh court sentences Rohingya refugee to death in a first

Dhaka, Jun 12 (EFE).- A Bangladesh court has handed a death sentence to a Rohingya man in a drug-related case, marking the first capital punishment in the country for a refugee of the minority community from neighboring Myanmar, prosecutors informed on Sunday.

The sentence against Md Arif is the first death sentence to a Rohingya person for a crime carried out in Bangladesh, public prosecutor Faridul Alam told EFE.

The sentence for Arif, a refugee living in the refugee camp at the Ukhiya sector of the southern Cox’s Bazar district, was announced on Thursday, even as he remains a fugitive from justice.

The decision, issued by district court judge Abdullah Al Mamun, is also the first-ever death sentence given under Bangladesh’s Narcotics Control Act 2018, Alam said.

According to the prosecutor, Arif was arrested with 7,990 pieces of yaba tablet or methamphetamine in September 2019 and was in jail until February this year, when he was granted bail.

“He never showed up after leaving jail on bail,” said Alam.

Bangladesh in December 2018 approved the new narcotics law, recognizing yaba – a pill smuggled into the country mainly from Myanmar – as a drug for the first time.

The law was approved as part of an anti-narcotics drive in which hundreds of people, including Rohingyas, were killed in so-called “gunfights” with members of law-enforcing agencies.

Some Rohingyas have been accused of being involved in many crimes in Bangladesh, including murder and drug smuggling, since a major influx of refugees in 2017.

As per the United Nations refugee agency, Bangladesh is home to over 920,000 Rohingya refugees, including around 738,000 who fled Myanmar after August 2017 following a wave of military violence and persecution, which has been flagged by the UN as ethnic cleansing and an attempt to genocide, apart from its possible crimes against humanity being probed by international courts.

Facing the lack of money, employment and access to formal education in the refugee camps, some of the Rohingyas – a majority Muslim and ethnically Bengali community – have resorted to crimes and drug trafficking as means to survive. EFE


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