Bangladesh authorities must thoroughly and swiftly investigate the disappearance and death of journalist Hasibur Rahman Rubel, determine if he was killed for his work, and hold any perpetrators accountable, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
On the evening of July 3, Rubel received a phone call and left the office of Kushtiar Khabar, the privately owned newspaper where he worked as acting editor, in the southwest Khulna division’s Kushtia district, according to multiple news reports and a local journalist familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal.
Rubel informed his office assistant that he would return soon, and when he did not return later that night, his brother filed a missing person notice with the local police, according to those sources.
On July 7, locals found Rubel’s body in a river in Kushtia district, according to those news reports and the journalist who spoke with CPJ. The reason for his disappearance and the cause of his death remains unclear, according to those sources.
“Bangladesh authorities must conduct a swift and impartial investigation into the disappearance and death of journalist Hasibur Rahman Rubel, determine if he was targeted for his work, and ensure that any perpetrators are brought to justice,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s executive director. “Authorities must work to end Bangladesh’s dreadful record of allowing journalists’ deaths to remain unsolved and to wallow in impunity.”
Rubel also worked as editor of the privately owned news website CrimeVisionBD.com, and as a correspondent for the privately owned newspaper Amader Notun Shomoy, according to those news reports and the journalist who spoke with CPJ, who added that all three outlets Rubel worked for cover politics, crime, and social issues.
Md. Kamruzzaman Talukdar, officer-in-charge of the Kumarkhali police station, whose jurisdiction covers where Rubel’s body was found, said the journalist’s body did not bear marks of injury but had “an unusual mark on his throat,” according to New Age Bangladesh.
Police have not made any arrests in the case as of July 13, according to that report and the local journalist.
CPJ contacted Talukdar and the Kushtia police for comment via messaging app, but did not receive any response.
In 2021, Bangladesh ranked 11th on CPJ’s global impunity index, which tracks countries where the murderers of journalists escape justice.