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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 217
December 3 , 2005

This week's issue:
Star Law Analysis
Law Alter Views
Human Rights Advocacy
Rights Investigation
Rights Corner
Human Rights Monitor
Law Week

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Law Week

Press Council Act Journos hit out at move for punitive provision
Eminent journalists strongly criticised Bangladesh Press Council chairman's suggestion for adding a punitive provision to the council's law. "He should have held open and in-depth consultation with working journalists, editors and publishers before making any suggestions for a law to give punitive power to the press council," Ataus Samad, advisory editor of the daily Amar Desh, said. President of Jatiya Press Club Reazuddin Ahmed said such a punitive provision goes against the very concept of the Press Council. Besides, Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) in a statement said it would never accept any initiative to enact a law to control the journalists. Press Council Chairman Justice Abu Sayeed Ahammed, in the council's annual report 2004 placed in parliament said, "I am in favour of adding a punitive provision to the act to make it effective and to strengthen the council."-- The Daily Star, November 27.

Ban on sending female workers abroad lifted for 6 months
The government has finally permitted Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) to send trained female domestic workers to all the Middle Eastern countries on an experimental basis for six months under a set of conditions regarding pre and post migration management. Presently, only eight recruiting agencies are authorised to send female workers only to Saudi Arabia against a security deposit of Tk 50 lakh with the government by each of them as guarantee for compensations in cases of the workers' return due to any breach of contract or abuse. Upon the government's withdrawal of the partial ban, other recruiting agencies that are members of Baira will also be able to send female domestic workers abroad, but will have to meet some stringent conditions. The recruiting agencies will have to bring them back on schedule. In cases of their failures to comply with the government conditions or violations of rights that may require compensations, the workers will be compensated from the deposited Tk 1 crore. Baira will have to replenish the amount spent from the deposit. -- The daily Star, November 27.

Rohingya refugees being registered
The process of registering the remaining Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh has begun amidst their sluggish repatriation to Myanmar over the last two years and a rising number of Myanmarese living outside the two government-run refugee camps. "We started a two-month long registration campaign of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in the two government-run refugee camps in Cox's Bazar district in south-eastern Bangladesh," said a press release issued by Jennifer Pagonis, UNHCR Media Relations and Public Information spokesperson in Geneva yesterday. Officials at the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in Dhaka told The Daily Star that as many as 30 surveyors are undergoing training for registering an estimated 20,500 Rohingya refugees in the two camps -- Kutupalong and Nayapara. -- The Daily Star, November 28.

CEC's new rule for journalists
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz introduced a procedure that requires journalists to submit their written questions first to know anything about the commission's preparations for the next election. No question besides the written ones would be entertained. The CEC also asked the journalists not to seek appointment from him frequently. "You will have to submit your queries in writing first. I will respond only to your written questions," Aziz told journalists at his office. Secretary to Election Commission (EC) secretariat SM Zakaria and Joint Secretary Mohammad Zakoria were also present at that time. A former CEC termed it unprecedented in the history of EC. -- The Daily Star, November 28.

Robbery Case Court orders judicial probe against Huda
A Dhaka court ordered a judicial probe into the robbery case against Communications Minister Nazmul Huda and 34 others. Following a direction from the Court of District and Sessions Judge, Dhaka, Magistrate Salma Siddiqua Mahatab of the District Magistrate's Court directed First Class Magistrate Mohammad Zia Uddin to probe the matter. Earlier on September 13, the Court of Second Class Magistrate, Dhaka dismissed the case saying that there were no elements for taking it into cognizance. Judge Mohammad Rafiqul Islam in his October 20 order cancelled the lower court's order following a criminal appeal by the prosecution lawyers and said the case would continue according to the law. Mohammad Abdur Rouf, secretary of Fazlur Rahman Foundation and a consultant of Beximco, filed the case with the Court of First Class Magistrate, Dhaka. --The Daily Star, November 28.

Twin JMB suicide strikes spell carnage in courts
Nine people including two lawyers and a police constable were killed and 78 others injured in two suicide bomb attacks by Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), on Chittagong and Gazipur court premises. In the latest wave of terror strikes on the judiciary, two JMB members blew themselves up -- one near a police check-post at the entrance to the Chittagong court building and the other in a crowd of lawyers and their clients at the Gazipur bar association building. The Gazipur suicide bomber died on the spot, while doctors till date are trying hard to save the life of Chittagong bomber, Abul Bashar. The JMB has targeted the judiciary as a part of its professed struggle to turn the state into an Islamic shariah-based one. Two notes found with Bashar termed the attack a preliminary warning to the forces working to ensure security of judges and announced to continue the Jihad until 'an Islamic welfare state is established'. -- The Daily Star, November 30.

HC Rule on Govt. for attacks on courts, judges
The High Court issued a rule on the government why its continuous failure to discharge constitutional obligations to hold impartial, adequate and effective investigations into the bomb blasts on court premises since August 17 should not be declared a failure in protecting fundamental rights. A division bench, upon a writ petition filed by a member of Bangladesh Bar Council, ordered the government to submit progress reports to the High Court every two weeks on the investigations into the attacks on court premises.
The rule also asked the government to show cause why government omission in taking adequate and effective measures to ensure security of the members of the judiciary, court officers, lawyers, police personnel and court-users should not be declared to be a failure to protect the fundamental rights of the petitioner. Advocate ZI Khan Panna, chairman of the Human Rights Committee of Bangladesh Bar Council that represents as many as 40,000 legal practitioners of the country, filed the petition on behalf of the committee. -- The Daily Star, December 1.

Suicide Bomb Attacks SCBA enforces hartal
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) enforces a countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal to protest against Tuesday's killings in bomb attacks on Gazipur and Chittagong courts. Lawyers across the country yesterday observed a mourning day as nine people were killed in the suicide bomb attacks. The Awami League-led 14-party opposition combine has extended its support to the first ever call by a lawyers' body for a countrywide shutdown. The SCBA executives led by its President Mahbubey Alam called the strike after an emergency general meeting at the Supreme Court. The lawyers body sought support of the political parties, civil society members and people from all walks of life to make today's general strike a success. Lawyers meanwhile staged demonstrations, held meetings, wore black badges and hoisted black flags on all bar premises across the country. Prothom Alo, December 1.

Corresponding with the Law Desk
Please send your mails, queries, and opinions to: Law Desk, The Daily Star 19 Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215; telephone 8124944,8124955,fax 8125155;email <dslawdesk@yahoo.co.uk,lawdesk@thedailystar.net


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