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     Volume 4 Issue 57 | August 5 , 2005 |

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News Notes

Matiur Wins Magsaysay Award
Matiur Rahman, editor of Bangla daily Prothom Alo, has won this year's Ramon Magsaysay Award (RMA) along with five other Asian personalities. While announcing the award, which is also known as Asia's Nobel, the Magsaysay Foundation praised Rahman for "wielding the power of the press to crusade against acid throwing to stir Bangladeshis to help many Bangladeshis to help its many victims". Matiur has donated the prize money to charity.
The 55-year-old journalist has been leading the Prothom Alo since the plight of a minor girl caught his attention five years ago. Under his stewardship, the daily has launched a movement for the aid of acid victims; around Tk 8.2 million has been raised so far and around 100 victims have been treated.
This year's other RMA winners are: Thailand's Jon Ungphakorn, Indonesia's Teten Masduki, India's V Shanta, South Korea's Yoon Hye-Ran and Laos's Sombath Somphone.

Next Step for Britain
After a déjà vu of the 09/11 incident last month in London, Britain is trying now to come to terms with the wave of terrorist attacks. It seems that the government has plans to launch a massive programme in September to 'understand' the Muslims and stop the spread of extremism among the young.
This scheme involved up-close dialogues with the Muslim community, bringing transparency in what the mosques do and the role of the faith-based educational institutions such as madrasas. Networks will be set up in Muslim communities to talk to the people to find out what they think and why they incline to become extremists. Secular Muslim groups will also be involved in the process. The problems of the Muslims will be heard and community leaders will seek solutions accordingly. Then the exercise will be put in an activity framework.
Britain also plans to have more restrictive laws in allowing people involved in hate speech to enter Britain. The Home Office has drawn up a list of such hate campaigners to be banned from entering Britain and the name of at least one Bangladeshi lawmaker has been suggested by the local communities to be put on the list, government sources said. It seems that the local muslim communities responded to this positively.
Britain also plans to deport the extremists living in the country. An agreement was made with Jordan last week for Omar Bakri's deportation, one of the most strident radical Muslims taking refuge in the UK. Since the government cannot deport just anyone, it has come up with a country to country agreement.

Barred without hope
At least 529 under-trial prisoners are held captive in jails in the three hill districts Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban. The judicial system is yet to start functioning even though the infrastructure to deal with these criminals have already been set up. As the government hasn't appointed the judges, the trials of these accused are being delayed for years, causing sufferings for everyone. not only to the accused but also to the plaintiffs. Additional expenditure is incurred when the government, it itself becomes the plaintiff. In absence of judge courts, the accused who can not afford to engage lawyers do not get assistance from the government's legal aid fund. This is an obstacle to getting justice as some lawyers put it.
The then Awami League government set up the establishments including Judge Court buildings and residences for Judges in three district headquarters in 1998. In Rangamati, the building built for official residence of the District Judge is now being used as residence of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Regional Council Chairman.
The delay in disposal of cases is increasing the number of inmates in the three district jails, which now accommodate people much more than their capacities. They are huddled in jails and are deprived of facilities.
As per Section 9 of the Prisoners Act 1894, an accused should be produced before court once in every 14 days. But this is often violated as the jail authorities lack administrative, legal and logistic support to produce the accused before court within the stipulated time, they said. Moreover the magistrate courts can not issue production warrants. A high official in Rangamati Jail said, as per rule, they send lists of accused to the Magistrate court regularly, seeking 'production warrant' (court permission to produce an accused). But production warrant is issued for only a handful of them. "We have nothing to do if the court can not give a schedule", he said.

Unhygienic foods
Raids, Fines fail to Change the Situation

They have been fined for their unhygienic environment, yet these restaurants and sweetmeat shops are running their business as usual without any sign of improvement. A visit on July 31 to Momin Sweetmeats, a shop at Nazimuddin Road, proved that the situation stays the same despite government efforts. The recently formed mobile court raided the shop two days earlier, and the inspectors ended up throwing their sweetmeats down the drain. The owner was put in jail for one month. Two days later cockroaches could be seen moving on the sweetmeats awaiting sale. When a journalist of The Daily Star pointed this out to the shop employees, they just removed the cockroach from the bowl.
Crawling insects were not the only sign of unhygienic environment, the stale and odorous sweetmeats and syrup were seen on the first floor of the shop. "We do not use the colour any more as our owner was sent to jail for that, said Manju, a shop assistant. Manju was emphatic that the sweetmeats and the syrup were not stale as they were made only yesterday.
The scenario was similar in other hotels and restaurants that were fined on the same day the inspection team clamped down on Momin Sweetmeats. Mitali Restaurant, Saimon Hotel and Restaurant and Shohag Restaurant were fined taka one thousand each, yet no improvement was seen in the environment of these restaurants.
The only exception was the Hatirpul factory of the Muslim Sweetmeats, which remained closed since the day it was raided.


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