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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: 37
September 22 , 2007

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Khaleda's case brought under emergency rules
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) brought under emergency power rules the case filed against former prime minister Khaleda Zia on September 2. The commission will file a fresh case against her detained elder son Tarique Rahman 'very soon'. Meantime, the ACC pressed charges against detained former BNP lawmaker Mossaddak Ali Falu, four Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) ward commissioners and 11 others in a case filed in connection with embezzling government relief materials. Sources in the ACC said Tarique would be accused of concealing information in his wealth statement submitted to the ACC, and illegally accumulating properties disproportionate to his known sources of income. “The container handling case (accusing Khaleda, her younger son Koko and 11 others) was brought under EPR in response to a petition by investigation officer (IO) of the case,” ACC Secretary Mukhles Ur Rahman told a press briefing. “Bringing the case under EPR means bail could be granted to none of the accused,” he added. The FIR mentioned that a petition is being processed to bring the case under the EPR. -The Daily Star, September 18.

US rights group moves to cancel GSP facility for Bangladesh
A US-based rights group has made a move seeking cancellation of GSP, a system that favours Bangladeshi garment export, alleging the country does not allow labour rights in export processing zones. However, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) says the move is based on falsehoods. Bepza has drafted a position paper to help the government fight a petition the rights body filed with the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) on October 4. The rights group -- American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) -- has been lobbying for cancellation of GSP facilities for many years. Though GSP (generalised system of preferences) facilities do not offer a lot of benefit to Bangladesh, its cancellation would confirm AFL-CIO's claims that labour rights are violated in Bangladesh. "The complaint of absence of workers rights in the EPZs is not true as about 177 elected workers representation & welfare committees (WRWCs) are actively working in the EPZs of Bangladesh," said a position paper prepared by Bepza in this regard. -The Daily Star, September 18.

Judiciary separation: Govt gets 6 more weeks
The Supreme Court gave government another six weeks' time for making appointments to the newly created posts of judicial magistrate and their support staff with office accommodation in subordinate courts to complete the process of judiciary separation. The apex court order came after perusing the progress report submitted by the government as asked by it earlier with regard to implementation of the process of separating the judiciary from the executive control. A six-member full bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice M Ruhul Amin, passed the orders and adjourned until October 31 the hearings on the contempt cases against 13 bureaucrats for impeding the process of separating the judiciary from the executive. Additional Attorney General Salah Uddin Ahmed appeared for the government. In December 1999, the Supreme Court in the Masder Hossain case had given the government a 12-point directive for separating the judiciary. Since then, the successive political governments on several occasions had sought extra time for the implementation of the SC directives, but to no effect. -Unb, Dhaka, September 19.

US expects extra steps to restore democracy
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Gastright meets Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda at his office in the capital The US government expects Bangladesh to take additional steps for restoring democracy as soon as possible. Visiting US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Gastright said this at a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda. The US embassy in Dhaka later issued a press statement on the around one-hour talks held at the CEC's office. "Gastright said the US government looked forward to additional steps by Bangladesh to restore democracy as soon as possible, and the two discussed the steps underway to prepare for elections by the end of 2008," the statement said. "He reiterated the US government's willingness to provide support to the Election Commission. Full democracy is vital to the country. Full participation in the electoral process is vital to democracy," it added. The press statement said Gastright also welcomed the recent relaxation on internal politics and emphasised the important role that political parties, NGOs and civil society can play in the electoral process. -The Daily Star, September 19.

Campus violence
Prof Neem sent to jail on surrender
Prof Neem Chandra Bhowmik, chairman of Applied Physics Department of Dhaka University (DU) and an accused in two cases filed in connection with the August violence on Dhaka University (DU) campus, was sent to jail after he surrendered before a Dhaka court. Meanwhile, a Rajshahi court framed charges against 14 people including two Rajshahi University (RU) professors for violating the Emergency Power Rules and torching a vehicle belonging to the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) during the violence on RU campus in August. Neem, who is sick, was given first class division in jail and the court ordered the jail authorities to ensure his proper treatment if necessary. Metropolitan Magistrate SM Ferdous Alam gave the order after Neem along with his lawyers appeared before the court in connection with the cases filed with Shahbagh Police Station in August. On September 9, police brought charges against four teachers and 15 students of DU for instigating violent protests on the university campus as well as in adjacent areas including Shahbagh. -The Daily Star, September 19.

Gold Smuggling Case
Ershad gets acquitted
A Dhaka court relieved former president and Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad of the gold smuggling case. The judgement of the case had been adjourned seven times before for different reasons. Former president Ershad faced numerous charges after he was deposed in a popular uprising in 1990. In August and September last year, he was acquitted of four graft cases following his announcement of joining the BNP-led four-party alliance. The gold smuggling case was filed 16 years ago on July 17, 1990 while president Ershad was in office. Primarily, the persons accused in the charge sheet were Bernhard Rudiger from Germany, David Anthony Chalmar Chaker from UK, former Zia International Airport manager Maj (retd) Ashraf Uddin Sekender, airport security guard Abu Taher, former chairman of Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh Mainul Islam, and Maksudur Rahman. Ershad's name was included in the charge sheet on August 31, 1991, but the trial against Ershad was shelved for several years following a High Court (HC) stay order. -The Daily Star, September 19.

Court declines to hear Khaleda's bail appeal
A Dhaka court declined to hear the bail petition of detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia, saying the court has no jurisdiction to pass any judgment on an appeal for bail in a graft case. Judge Mohammad Azizul Haq at Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court made the observation that follows a September 12 ruling in which Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Jalal Ahmed also declined to hear Khaleda's bail petition citing the same reason. The defence lawyers in their bail petition said the government had filed the case against Khaleda, her younger son Arafat Rahman Koko and 11 other people under sections 409/109 of Bangladesh Penal Code and section 5(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act. Later the case was brought under the Emergency Power Rules (EPR) on September 17 that also curbed the right of an accused to seek bail from any court, they said. But the prosecuting section of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at the CMM Court did not get the order of bringing the case under the EPR from the authorities concerned till September 18. So, there was no obstacle to granting bail to their client, the defence added.-- The Daily Star, September 21

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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