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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: 216
November 26, 2005

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State minister allegedly assaults reporter
State Minister for Housing and Public Works Alamgir Kabir allegedly assaulted a reporter at his Secretariat office. The reporters present at the Secretariat immediately met the minister and protested the incident. When contacted for his comment, Kabir categorically denied to The Daily Star of assaulting any journalist. It was learnt that Janokantho reporter Tapan Biswas went to the minister's office and put before him a barrage of questions on the Monga situation in the minister's area and about changing his personal assistant 18 times and assistant personal secretary nine times. He also asked the minister if it is true that he draws salaries for six orderlies although he has two. The minister became excited at this and exchanged heated words with the reporter. At one point, the minister manhandled the reporter, the latter claimed to the press. Earlier in 2003, Kabir once reportedly drove away some local journalists from a meeting on law and order situation held in Rangpur. The Dhaka Reporters' Unity protested the incident. --The Daily Star, November 21.

Rules violated to greet PM as Saarc chair
Ignoring the rules of procedure, the 19th session of parliament that began, spent about half an hour congratulating prime minister on her being elected the Saarc chairperson. Speaker Jamiruddin Sircar instead of going into the day's business allowed the unscheduled congratulatory discussion to take place at the beginning of the sitting. Whereas the question-answer session should have been held first as the rules of procedure of Jatiya Sangsad says unless the speaker otherwise directs, the first hour of every sitting shall be available for the asking and answering of questions. The speaker did not say anything about the fate of question-answer session; rather he just let the lawmakers felicitating the prime minister, delaying the question-answer. The speaker initiated the unscheduled discussion by congratulating the Leader of the House Khaleda Zia while delivering his welcome address at the beginning. The Daily Star, November 21.

Kibria Killing HC rejects petition for re-probe
The High Court (HC) rejected a writ petition seeking reinvestigation into Awami League leader Shah AMS Kibria murder case. A division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Sharifuddin Chaklader and Justice AFM Ali Asgar also discharged the rule earlier issued by the court upon the government. The High Court, in its observation, said as the case is in the trail court, it has no jurisdiction to order for further investigation into the case. "The trial court, if it feels necessary, can reinvestigate the case," it observed. Former finance minister and Awami League lawmaker SAMS Kibria and four local leaders of the party were killed in a grenade attack on a rally in Habiganj on January 27.
On March 20, Senior ASP of the CID, Munshi Atiqur Rahman, submitted the charge sheet to the court against 10 people. The complainant, Abdul Majid, organising secretary of Habiganj Awami League, had alleged that the CID submitted the charge sheet to the court ignoring him. Majid had lodged a revision petition with the District Judge's Court, Habiganj, on May 4 for reinvestigation into the case. The district judge discharged the petition. -- BD News, November 22.

JMB menace continues
Threat to blow up press club, DC office; judge resigns
The outlawed Islamist militant organisation Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), in line with its on going series of threats, announced its intentions to blow up the Tangail Press Club, the judge court and the deputy commissioner's (DC) office in Habiganj, and threatened to kill journalists in Tangail and the executive engineer of the Sirajganj municipality. Meantime, a senior assistant judge of a Barisal court, Chowdhury Hafizur Rahman, now studying law in London resigned to protest the killing of two judges in Jhalakathi on November 14. The judge told the BBC Radio Bangla Service that the 'intolerable situation' prevailing in Bangladesh after the killings had prompted him to resign. 'The killing is not a small incident, it was an attempt to destroy the judiciary of the country as well as an attack on the country's sovereignty,' he said, adding, 'The judges cannot be protected by deploying armed bodyguards.' --UNB, Dhaka, November 23.

High-ups want to go tough on the press
The president, prime minister and information minister have expressed their willingness to amend the provision of the Press Council Act related to the power to warn, admonish and censure the press, said chairman of the press council. "I am in favour of adding a punitive provision to the act to make it effective and to strengthen the council," Justice Abu Sayeed Ahammed, chairman of the council, said in the council's annual report 2004 placed in parliament. Justice Ahammed, who was appointed the chairman of Bangladesh Press Council on May 26 this year, said amending the law is an urgent matter. Justice Ahammed also said the Press Council Act 1974 should also have some "executive force" so that the council can force any one to comply with the law and ensure punishment to the law violators. -- Prothom Alo, November 24.

PMO order stops workshop on CHT people's land rights
A two-day workshop on the land rights issues of indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) that began at Rangamati was forced to stop in the afternoon following a 'directive' from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). The deputy commissioner of Rangamati informed the police super about the PMO 'order' and directed the officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station to take immediate action. The organisers stopped the workshop after receiving the order. A total of 68 representatives from different NGOs were participating in the workshop to find ways to resolve the land disputes as well as to raise a 'uniform demand' to ensure the land rights of the indigenous people in the region.
Six NGOs -- Hill Tracts NGO forum (HTNF), Tangya, Maleya, Mrochet, Kateng and Movement for the Protection of Forests and Land Rights in CHT (MPFLR), jointly organised the workshop with the financial assistance from the Royal Danish Embassy in Dhaka. The Daily Star, November 24.

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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