Bangladesh offers lessons on rights

When more than 400 people die in a building collapse — as happened in Bangladesh last week on a nice sunny day, absent any earthquake or tidal wave — some police action is appropriate. It’s hard not to assume the builders and owners didn’t take some shortcuts in reckless disregard of human life and safety. And any government building inspector who signed off on the work should be in for some close questioning, as well.

But some of the steps taken by authorities there should be alarming to American ears.

When one of the building’s owners fled, Bangladeshi police arrested his wife, The Associated Press reports, “in an attempt to force him to surrender.”

How about the kids? Might it not help to grab the kids, as well?

Meantime, a Dhaka court ruled two owners of garment factories in the ill-fated structure can be held and questioned for 15 days without charges being filed.

Gee, think they’ll be able to extract any confessions after 15 days?

Our American police come in for criticism on occasion, for sidestepping constitutional protections designed to safeguard the rights of suspects. Maintaining our liberties does require constant vigilance. But it’s worth remembering, from time to time, how well they generally do — as well as something that we far too often take for granted, which is that we have those liberties to defend in the first place.

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