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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: 254
September 16, 2006

This week's issue:
Rights Investigation
Star Law Analysis
Law Vision
Human Rights Monitor
Court Corridor
Law Week

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Law Week

Crack down on Proshika, Over 100 staff arrested
The government has launched a countrywide crackdown on Proshika, one of the largest non-government organisations (NGO) in the country, ahead of opposition programme to lay siege to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). The crackdown on Proshika staff was allegedly launched in suspicion of the organisation's preparation to send a large number of people to Dhaka to take part in the 14-party siege programme tomorrow and grand rally on September 18. The opposition's programmes were aimed at pressing home its demand for reforms to the election commission and the caretaker government. According to Proshika sources, law enforcers arrested more than 100 officials of the organisation in different parts of the country. Police also raided many Proshika offices across the country. Sources said most of the arrestees are area coordinators and staff of Proshika's different development areas. Many police officials across the country said the Proshika staff were arrested for their 'anti-government activities'. --The Daily Star, September 11.

EC admits chance of fake voting
Election Commission admitted that there is possibility of fake voting as the updated electoral roll contains more names than the actual number of voters. "There is possibility of fake voting due to duplication of names as some people registered their names in more than one place while many names that should have been dropped are still there," said Abdur Rashid Sarker, secretary to Election Commission (EC) Secretariat. "But people will resist fake voting," he told reporters. The EC secretary said, "If any irre-gularity in the election observation work is proved against any organisation, the EC will ban them for a minimum of three years." Asked about fund misuse by some NGOs in the name of election observation during the union parishad elections in 2003, he said, "We are trying to finalise a policy on election observation. "There has been no policy so far in this regard and we could not take any action against these organisations." The EC secretary said they are planning to give those who have not registered their names in the updated voter roll a chance. He, however, said the EC will finalise the matter. --The Daily Star, September 11.

Home ministry for dropping 2 cases filed on 'political ground'
The government decided to withdraw two cases filed against two brothers in connection with the possession of 520 bottles of contraband Phensidyl saying the cases were filed with 'political motivation'. The two brothers Mohammad Sobahan and Mohammad Selim lived in the South Begunbari slum in the city's Tejgaon area. Metropolitan Public Prosecutor (PP) Abdullah Mahmud Hasan on September 7 submitted two separate petitions along with a home ministry letters recommending the withdrawal of the cases saying the cases were 'politically motivated'. Judge Mohammad Aman Ullah of the Fifth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court, Dhaka fixed October 10 and November 5 for hearing on the petitions. According to the prosecution, a team of Tejgaon police led by its then officer-in-charge (OC) raided Nannu's shanty at South Begunbari and arrested Sobahan with 280 bottles of Phensidyl on November 11, 1999. Sensing the presence of police, his brother Selim and two others fled the scene. Sub-inspector Sirajul Islam filed a case in this connection under the Special Powers Act, 1974 against Sobahan, Selim and the two others with Tejgaon Police Station on the same day. --The Daily Star, September 12.

EU mission asks BNP leaders about electoral reform dialogue
Visiting members of the European Union (EU) Election Observation Exploratory Mission asked BNP leaders if a dialogue is possible between the ruling alliance and the opposition coalition on the issue of electoral reforms. In reply to the query BNP leaders told the delegation that the ruling alliance is ready for a dialogue if the opposition proposes one. The exchange occurred when the mission delegates met the leaders of BNP in the party's central office at Nayapaltan in the capital. During the meeting, which went on for about two hours, BNP leaders led by its Secretary General also LGRD Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, and the EU mission led by Andrew Bruce discussed the matter of monitoring the upcoming election and the pre-election circumstances of the country. The ruling party leaders gave their consent to deploying the EU mission for observing the next election. Declining to disclose the meeting agenda, the leader of the EU mission said, "We have just listened to their views."
But meeting sources said the EU mission asked the ruling party leaders about their position regarding the proposal for electoral reforms and also wanted to know about the views of BNP regarding Justice KM Hasan, the likely chief adviser to the next caretaker government, and Chief Election Commissioner Justice MA Aziz. The leaders of BNP told the EU mission that Justice Hasan will take over the charge of the next caretaker government as its chief adviser in accordance with the constitution, the sources said. --Prothom Alo, September 12

Phase-wise RMG wage increase proposed
The National Wage Board at its 24th meeting failed to reach a consensus on minimum wages for garment workers despite a hectic seven-hour long negotiation. Failing to reach a consensus the board sent to the government, for its consideration, a three-tier proposal to be implemented in three years with Tk 1,604 as gross minimum salary in the first year. The board proposed Tk 1,604 as gross minimum wage for entry-level garment workers for the first year up to June 30, 2007. Minimum gross salary would be Tk 1,890 in the second year during July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008 and it would be Tk 2,117.50 in the third year starting from July 1, 2008. Annisul Huq, representative of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on the board did not agree to the proposal, and Nazma Akhtar, representative of workers on the board did not sign the proposal, saying it did not match the expectation of the workers. However, Board Chairman Anwarul Haque, independent member on the board Iqbal Ahmed, and permanent representative of the workers on the board Zafrul Hasan signed the proposal. Permanent member of the employers on the board Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed was absent in marathon meeting held at the board office in Dhaka. --The Daily Star, September 12.

Judiciary Separation
The much-talked-about bill for separation of the judiciary from the executive has been gathering dust in parliament for over six months due to the government's insincerity towards Supreme Court (SC) directives in this regard. The possibility of passage of the bill during the tenure of the current parliament is also fading fast as its last session will be prorogued on September 27 with the parliamentary body tasked with submitting a scrutiny report on the bill having made no move yet. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs held its last meeting yesterday but did not discuss the bill styled Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2006. The bill was the last on the meeting agenda.
Committee member Justice Mozammel Huq admitted that they did not discuss the bill at yesterday's meeting. If the bill is not passed by the parliament during its ongoing session, its effectiveness will be lapsed with dissolution of the current parliament on October 27. In that case, a new bill will have to be moved in next parliament which will be formed after the next parliamentary election scheduled for January next year. Sources said sensing the government's stance for not passing the bill, the parliamentary body, which has held at least six meetings since the bill was sent to it for scrutiny on February 26, did not even start the process of scrutinising the bill. --The Daily Star,September14.

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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