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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: 17
April 28, 2007

This week's issue:
Star Law Analysis
Human Rights Monitor
Law Campaign
Law Vision
Human Rights Advocacy
Rights Monitor
Fact File
Law Week

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Law Week

HC to consider bail petitions
The High Court ruled that it has the jurisdiction to dispose of petition seeking bail by any person facing a criminal case under the Emergency Power Rules 2007. A division bench headed by Justice Nozrul Islam Chowdhury issued the ruling after inviting a legal debate on March 29 over revocation of the right to seek bail. The amended Emergency Power Rules (EPR) revoked the right to bail of those being herded up during the current countrywide operation against crime and corruption. Before giving its ruling it had sought opinions of senior lawyers on the issue, suspending the High Court orders on bail petitions moved on behalf of bigwigs, including politicians, detained on charges of corruption and serious crimes. On the night of March 21, the government issued a gazette notification to this effect under the Emergency Powers Ordinance 2007 with retrospective effect since February 13. According to the amended law, an accused in such a case has been stripped of right to file bail petition during the investigation or trial of the case. Additionally, they cannot seek redress from 'any higher courts against any order given by any court or tribunal before or during the trial--until the delivery of the final verdict'. -Unb, Dhaka, April 23.

Court suspends arrest warrant against Hasina
A Dhaka court suspended the operation of the arrest warrants issued against Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina and two others in connection with the Paltan killings on October 28 last year. The AL chief, meantime, has appealed to the world leaders and people of Bangladesh to put pressure on the caretaker government to let her return home. The former prime minister said she would fight any charges of murder and corruption in court, if she is allowed to return to the country. Hasina gave separate interviews to Indian television station NDTV, Qatar-based Al Jazeera television channel and BBC Radio (Bangla Service) from London, where she is now residing at her younger sister's house. Referring to the interim government's support for 'reforms' inside the political parties, she said it is not the job of a caretaker government. Hasina could not take her scheduled flight from London, as the British Airways did not issue boarding pass to her. The AL chief is accused of involvement in the death of four political activists during street violence in October 28 last year -- a charge she has denied. -The Daily Star, April 24.

EC hopes ban on indoor politics to go by May 8
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain hoped that the ban on indoor politics in the country would be lifted next month. Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) removed six election symbols in a bid to protect voters from being confused by religious-image-based election campaigns. "We hope the ban on the indoor politics in the country would be lifted by May 8," Sakhawat said while talking to the reporters at his office. "The duration of the ban would go beyond three months on May 8, we therefore hope that the government would lift the ban," he said, adding, "It [the lifting of the ban] might be delayed." Sakhawat made the remarks follow the EC's meeting with the chief adviser. He, however, said, "We will sit with political parties to discuss electoral reforms whenever the government lifts the ban on politics." Replying a query, he said, "We will invite political parties, that are eligible for registration, to discuss the electoral issues." -The Daily Star, April 24.

UK hopes emergency to be lifted soon
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury yesterday said the UK hoped that the present caretaker government would lift the state of emergency soon and set a detailed roadmap for the next election. The UK also stressed the importance of the Bangladesh government's commitment to proper process and human rights, he told reporters after a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda. "I stressed that it was important that the government demonstrate commitment to due process and human rights," Choudhury quoted British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett as telling Bangladesh Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury on April 19. The CEC told reporters that the government's political decision affects the activities of the Election Commission (EC) and "To lift the ban on indoor politics is the government's political decision." "There are two sides of the election, one is technical and another is political, and the EC looks after the technical side of the election," Huda said, adding, "It is the task of the government to create an environment conducive to election." -The Daily Star, April 25.

Ban on Hasina's return lifted, no bar on Khaleda
The government withdrew the press note which barred Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina from returning to the country and said the administration never put any pressure on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia to go into exile. The decision ends weeks of intense speculation and drama over the future of the two often-feuding leaders, whom the government reportedly wanted to exile as part of the political reforms. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, after international and local calls for the government to mothball a reported decision to send the two leaders into exile. A home ministry press note said, "The government issued a press note as a special security measure on April 18, 2007 in the light of recent comments and activities of Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and her concerns over her personal safety." "It was clearly stated in the mentioned home ministry press note that the measure was temporary. But, in the light of opinions expressed by different quarters and news published in the media, the government has decided to withdraw this step," the press note stated. In a separate press note on Khaleda, the home ministry said, "It has come to the government's attention that a section of news media has been recently publishing speculative news and opinions regarding BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's going abroad and her freedom of movement." -The Daily Star, April 26.

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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