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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: 262
November 18, 2006

This week's issue:
Star Law Analysis
Law Education
Human Rights Monitor
Law Opinion
Human Rights Advocacy
Law News
Law Week

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Law Week

Aziz wants to announce polls schedule Nov 25
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz remains nonchalant about the growing crisis in the political arena centring demands for his immediate resignation and is preparing to declare the schedules for the next general elections. "The election schedules will be declared by November 25," Aziz told reporters while leaving his office yesterday afternoon. He, however, repeatedly declined earlier to talk to reporters who tried to communicate him through his personal secretary. Aziz declined to answer any further questions regarding the next parliamentary elections and left the EC premises amid tight security. Meanwhile, the 14-party alliance led by Awami League (AL) also remains rigid on its stance against participating in the polls under the present Aziz-led Election Commission (EC). In the wake of prevailing situation, the other election commissioners and officials at the EC Secretariat have become frustrated as the preparatory work is not going on smoothly. Although the secretariat has been carrying out some routine work, it is not adequate to conduct the polls in early January, they said. Sources close to Aziz said he is still indifferent about the growing volatile political situation. He did not discuss the latest political situation at the EC meeting and other election commissioners also did not raise the issue, sources added. Officials in the EC Secretariat also said Aziz remains silent if any one informs him of the deteriorating political situation. -The Daily Star, November 13.

Mokhlesur now an adviser with state minister's rank
President Iajuddin Ahmed appointed his controversial Press Secretary Mokhlesur Rahman Chowdhury as an adviser with the rank and status of a state minister. Mokhlesur was politically appointed to the president's press secretary post during the immediate past BNP regime. A handout from the Cabinet Division disclosed the appointment without saying which portfolio he received. The appointment, however, raised confusion and legal questions, as the caretaker government already has 11 advisers with the president as its chief. "The president has no jurisdiction to appoint more than 10 advisers," said Barrister Tanjib ul Alam, "A clear violation of the constitution," he added. Awami League (AL) Publicity Secretary Asaduzzaman Noor said they would lodge a protest against the appointment. "He is appointed with ill intentions," said Noor, adding that Mokhlesur was appointed politically by the BNP regime. Political parties have been demanding the cancellation of all political appointments, Noor said. BNP gave the appointment to Mokhlesur in the office of the president to have access to information about the council's decisions and other state related matters, he added. Meanwhile, several advisers to the caretaker government expressed their annoyance at Mokhlesur's attending the meeting of the advisers' council, a violation of the rule, as he is the press secretary to the president, sources said. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) recently accused Mokhlesur for despatching information by attending the council meetings. -The Daily Star, November 14.

Army Deployment Circular
Home secy's transfer halted mysteriously

A move to transfer Home Secretary SM Jahurul Islam to the education ministry has halted midway for a mysterious reason. Jahurul issued the controversial circular regarding army deployment, keeping the advisers to the caretaker government in the dark. President and Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed summoned him to the Bangabhaban for an explanation and the same day a step was initiated to send him to the education ministry. According to sources, the president also wanted to know from the home secretary whether he had taken any action against the policemen responsible for the mayhem at Karwan Bazar that left one killed and several others injured. In reply, the home secretary informed Iajuddin that he was going to discipline Kohinoor Mia, the deputy police commissioner who had ordered for shooting high-pressure hot water on the demonstrators. Jahurul asked the president not to liken him to Kohinoor and said he was ready to quit his job or comply with any transfer order, added the sources. Later, the establishment secretary was asked to take the dossier on the embattled home secretary to the Bangabhaban, but soon the move stopped for a reason not yet known. The 'unlawful and devious' decision [to deploy troops], which was eventually cancelled, had stunned the council of advisers, and some of them have requested the chief adviser (also in charge of the home ministry) to take disciplinary action against Jahurul Islam. -The Daily Star, November 15.

Uphold democratic spirit and human rights
Speakers tell int'l confce in London
Speakers at an international conference in London have expressed concern over recent political developments in Bangladesh and stressed the need to uphold the country's democratic spirit and fundamental human rights. Policy Exchange, London, in association with the US-based Hudson Institute, The New Statesman and the International Bangladesh Foundation organised the conference on November 15, according to a press release received in Dhaka. Dean Godson of Policy Exchange and Maneeza Hossain of Hudson Institute jointly opened the conference. Representatives of the three main UK political parties, Awami League leader Saber Hossain Chowdury and former law minister Moudud Ahmed of BNP attended the conference where the speakers urged the UK government to listen to the concerns being expressed by the Bengali population in the UK about the forthcoming elections in Bangladesh. Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, delivered the keynote address while Lord Avebury, Dean Godson and former British high commissioner to Bangladesh Peter Fowler chaired the sessions. Nicholas Boles, director of the Policy Exchange, said: "Whether the BNP or the Awami League forms the next government is, in a sense, not the point: Bangladeshi democracy must be the winner." Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik, a former justice, and Mohidur Rahman, international coordinator of the UK BNP, Dr Reza Kibria and MA Malik, UK BNP secretary, took part in the discussion. In the final session, Abbas Faiz of Amnesty International, Shahriar Kabir, acting president of Forum for Secular Bangladesh, Ahmed Ziauddin of Centre for Genocide Studies, and Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch raised their concerns about human rights violations. -The Daily Star, November 16.

CEC's removal, transfer of biased staff key to fair polls
Removal of the controversial Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other commissioners and transfer of biased officials is the prime condition for a free and fair election, eminent citizens said. At a press conference at the National Press Club, they demanded that the chief adviser and other advisers work collectively as a cabinet, upholding the spirit of the parliamentary form of government. They expressed concern over the slow pace of the activities of the caretaker government, especially the chief adviser, in creating a congenial environment for a fair election by making necessary transfers in the civil and police administration. They urged the political parties to design their next course of action keeping in mind the public sufferings and damage to the country's economy. The citizens appreciated the caretaker government's initiative of consulting the political parties on reconstitution of the Election Commission (EC). Dr Ajay Roy, a professor Dhaka University, read out a written speech on behalf of the citizens. Referring to the appointment of the president's former press secretary as an adviser to the caretaker government, he said, "The official had already been controversial. So, his promotion has raised question over the neutral character of the caretaker government." Controversial police officer Kohinoor Miah should be kept closed until completion of a probe, he said. He demanded compensation to the family of the killed and injured in the Karwan Bazar incident. He demanded immediate removal of the home secretary and a neutral probe into how and why the home secretary issued a circular on the deployment of army in aid to the civil administration without any consultation with the president/chief adviser or other advisers. -Prothom Alo, November 16.

No election commissioner willing to quit
Claims EC
The Election Commission (EC) Secretariat claimed that none of the election commissioners is willing to resign now while the three election commissioners, who earlier told reporters of their unwillingness to continue their job, remained silent. "They [election commissioners] do not have the attitude to resign from the posts. I talked to them," Secretary to the EC Secretariat Abdur Rashid Sarkar told reporters in his office. Directed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz, the EC secretariat in a press release yesterday termed 'baseless' the report run by a section of newspapers and electronic media that the election commissioners and the EC secretary were unwilling to discharge their duties. The media published the report in a bid to create confusion, the release said. Terming the Election Commission a constitutional body, the EC secretariat urged all concerned to refrain from creating confusion through running reports that are not based on information. The three election commissioners -- Justice Mahfuzur Rahman, SM Zakaria and Mahmud Hasan Mansur -- who earlier told reporters that they were unwilling to continue the job amid the volatile political situation, yesterday declined to talk to journalists on the issue. Journalists sought appointment from the three election commissioners separately through their personal secretaries, but the personal secretaries said the commissioners would not talk to newsmen on the matter. -The Daily Star, November 16.

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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