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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: 23
June 9 , 2007

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Human Rights Analysis
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Law week

Nasim's graft case
Judge feels embarrassed to hold trial
A Dhaka court felt embarrassed to conduct trial of a graft case against detained former home minister Mohammad Nasim while another Dhaka court issued an arrest warrant against Jatiya Party (Manju) leader Anwar Hossain Manju in a criminal case. The hearing on a seven-day remand prayer to interrogate controversial businessman Giasuddin Al Mamun in connection with an extortion case will be held in his presence. Besides, the High Court granted anticipatory bail for three months to former minister Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf along with three others and ex-BNP lawmaker Nazimuddin Alam and a dozen others in separate criminal cases. Judge Malik Abdullah Al Amin of the Special Court for Dhaka Division felt embarrassed to conduct trial of the graft case against Nasim and AHS Rahman, director of Consosietes Limited, filed five years back. The court also sent the case to the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court saying he could not dispose of the case. After receiving the case file, Judge Mohammad Azizul Haq of the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court too sent the case to the Third Special Court-- set up at Shere-e-Bangla MP Hostel-- for its quick disposal. However, it could not be ascertained immediately what caused embarrassment to the judge.- The Daily Star, June 4.

UN offers help to recover laundered assets
The visiting UN counter-terrorism team offered technical support in recovering laundered assets from overseas and help Bangladesh Bank's (BB) coordination with other central banks' financial intelligence units (FIU). The 11-member UN delegation head, Sergey Kerev, who is also assessment and technical assistance director of the counter-terrorism committee (CTC), informed the media of this offer after he met BB Governor Salehuddin Ahmed. The high-powered delegation were given a presentation on counter-terror strategies at the Police Headquarters. They also met the director general of Bangladesh Rifles, and the attorney general, to gain an understanding of counter-terror law and their enforcement. The delegation is set to meet intelligence agencies, the Anti-Corruption Commission, port administrators, the UN resident coordinator, bankers association and the NGO Affairs Bureau. Sources said the delegation has been looking into terror funding through various channels, including NGOs suspected of being used for militant activities. Notably, the NGO Affairs Bureau on May 6 cancelled the registration of controversial Kuwait-based NGO, Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, which is suspected of funding militancy. -The Daily Star, June 5.

EC moves to free its secretariat from PMO
The Election Commission (EC) is to send a proposal to the chief adviser within a couple of days to promulgate an ordinance in order to free the EC Secretariat from the control of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), an election commissioner said. "A draft proposal is being prepared for this and will be sent to the chief adviser within a couple of days," Election Commissioner Sahul Hossain disclosed the EC's new move to reporters at his office. "The constitution cannot be amended since no parliament exists now. So, it will have to be done through promulgating an ordinance," he said when asked whether any amendments to the constitution were required for this. However, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda on April 26 said the government does not want to separate the EC Secretariat from the PMO, now the Chief Adviser's Office, as it requires amendment to the constitution. Since then, there has been a debate whether an amendment to the constitution is actually required. Amid growing debate on the issue, the EC wanted to seek the opinions of legal experts but later decided to go ahead with the ordinance promulgation proposal. -The Daily Star, June 5.

Short scope for 'legal' money whitening
The government will allow whitening of the legally earned but undisclosed money until July 31. The National Board Revenue (NBR) issued a circular to that effect yesterday. The provision taking effect today will not impose any punishment but a fine. It states that a taxpayer would have to pay in penalty five percent of the total amount to be whitened in addition to the tax at regular rates. "We are offering the opportunity for a certain period on suggestions of different organisations and trade bodies," NBR Chairman Badiur Rahman told reporters at his office. He defended the decision saying that it would yield some positive results for the economy. The circular says the facility will not be applicable to ill-gained money. Besides, the people who stand accused or convicted of tax evasion and those who might be charged with similar offence in a future probe by concerned authorities will not be allowed to legalise their money under this provision.- Prothom Alo, June 5.

No place for defaulters, tax dodgers, criminals in FBCCI polls
Loan defaulters, tax evaders and persons convicted of crimes, corruption and moral turpitude will not be eligible to contest election of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) within five years of their conviction, a government handout said. The commerce ministry in a letter to the apex trade body asked it to change rules relating to participation in its election within 15 days from yesterday as per the Trade Organisation Ordinance, 1961. Meanwehile, the FBCCI Election Commission has primarily fixed August 16 for the biennial polls. As per the FBCCI constitution, of the 38 executive committee members of the apex trade body, 12 will be elected from district level chambers and 12 from trade associations, seven will be nominated from the MCCI and six divisional chambers, and seven from leading trade associations. FBCCI president will be elected from the association group this year. -The daily Star, June 6.

EC plan for election
New candidates won't need to wait for 3yrs
The proposed condition that a candidate will require at least three years of affiliation with a registered party to contest parliamentary polls will not be applicable for the next general elections only so as to enable newly formed parties to participate. Election Commission (EC) is also planning a provision that re-elections will be held in polling centres where 50 percent or more "no vote" are cast. "The condition that a candidate has to have three years attachment with a recognised political party would not be effective for the coming election," Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Sakhawat Hossain told newsmen. He said they changed their plan to encourage honest and competent people to participate in the elections. However, retired government and non-government organisation (NGO) officials will not be able to take advantage of the flexible rule. "A political party has to meet the criteria set by the commission for its registration, a must for getting the EC's permission to participate in the elections," he said. -The Daily Star, June 6.

UN team talks counter-terror measures with govt, lawmen
The visiting UN counter-terrorism team discussed local counter-terror measures and implementation of UN counter-terror resolutions with top government and law enforcement officials. The 11-member Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN met, among others, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), heads of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence and the National Security Intelligence, and chief of the NGO Affairs Bureau. The team discussed anti-money laundering legislation, its enforcement and use of illegally earned income in terror funding with the ACC chief. They also talked about Bangladesh's intelligence infrastructure during the meeting with the officials of the intelligence agencies. In the meeting with the NGO Affairs Bureau, the UN team brought up the issue of use of non-government organisations by different militant organisations to channel foreign and local funds, sources said. -The Daily Star, June 6.

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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