Home | Back Issues | Contact Us | News Home
“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: 57
February 23 , 2008

This week's issue:
Parliament Scan
Human Rights Advocacy
Rights Corner
Law Analysis
Fact File
Law Lexicon
Law Week

Back Issues

Law Home

News Home


Law week

EC decides to bar war criminals from polls
The Election Commission (EC) seeks to bar war criminals permanently from contesting parliamentary elections. In response to demands from most political parties, the EC has incorporated provisions in this regard in the proposed electoral laws for parliament.

Earlier, it had proposed inclusion of similar provisions in the existing electoral laws for city corporations and municipalities, barring war criminals from elections to those local government bodies. Once the proposals are finalised following the second round of electoral reform talks with political parties scheduled to begin on February 24, the EC will send those to the government to make them laws.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda yesterday said, "We also want to prevent war criminals from contesting elections. But we can't do so unless they are convicted by courts." But the caretaker government is yet to take any initiative for trial of war criminals despite growing demands for this. The proposed laws will have no effectiveness if they are not tried, sources pointed out.

According to the EC's proposal, a person cannot contest parliamentary elections if he or she is convicted by a national or international court for war crimes.

Participating in the first round of electoral reform talks with the EC in between September to November last year, most of political parties had demanded barring war criminals from parliamentary polls.

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed had also said it would be unwarranted if war criminals contest the elections. The EC has now prepared a comprehensive report incorporating the political parties' views on its proposed reforms in electoral laws and sent the report to 15 political parties on Tuesday with the invitations for second round of talks.

Meanwhile, the EC has not yet given any decision on the demands for not registering Jamaat-e-Islami and other anti-liberation forces as parliamentary political party. The issue will be discussed at the second round of talks. Sources noted that the EC is facing difficulties finalising its proposals since it could not yet hold first round of talks with BNP due to its leadership disputes. And it has excluded the party from the second round of talks. -The Daily Star, February 21, 2008.

Four cops suspended for graft in Barisal
Higher authorities suspended four police officials of Barisal range on different corruption charges. The suspended police officials are Shakiluzaman, assistant superintendent of police (ASP) of Jhalakati Sadar circle, Safizul Islam, ASP of Kalapara circle in Patuakhali, Rezaul Huq, district inspector (DI) of Barisal, and KM Anwar Amir, a sub inspector and second officer of Patuakhali Sadar Police Station.

Barisal Superintendent of Police Towfiq Mahbub Chowdhury has got a show cause notice for negligence of duty. ASP Shakiluzaman, ASP Safizul Islam and DI Rezaul Huq were accused of misevaluation of answer papers and other irregularities in exchange of bribes in departmental examination for promotion from nayek and habildar to assistant sub inspector and from assistant sub inspector to sub inspector, police department sources said. The examinations were held at Barisal Police Lines on October last year.- The Daily Star, February 21, 2008.

EC to allow parties to spend more on polls
The Election Commission (EC) has decided to raise the ceiling of polls expenditures of political parties contesting parliamentary election with stringent conditions attached to ensure financial transparency of the parties. A registered political party, if it fields over 200 candidates, can spend Tk 3 crore for election purposes. If the number of candidates is in between 100 to 200, it can spend Tk 2 crore and Tk 1 crore if the number of candidates is below 100, says the EC's revised proposals regarding polls expenditures.

But expenditures of candidates fielded by a party will be added with that of the party for election purposes from the date of announcement of election schedule to polling day.

The existing ceiling of a party's polls expenditures is Tk 1.50 crore, Tk 1 crore and Tk 75 lakh respectively. But the provisions made in 2001 were not enforced in the eighth parliamentary election in 2001. So, none of the political parties which contested that election submitted their expenditure reports to the EC, and it took no action against them.

The EC yesterday started sending its modified proposals concerning polls expenditures to political parties with the invitations to them for second round of electoral reform talks from February 24, sources in the EC Secretariat said. The proposals say the funds of a political party contesting parliamentary election shall be deposited and maintained in any scheduled bank. Any such party will have to submit its report on election expenditures to the EC within 90 days after the election. The report must show the opening and closing balance of the bank account and the amount of money the party received as donations within the time frame. . -The Daily Star, February 20, 2008.

Workers at risk of losing legal status
Majority of around three lakh Bangladeshis now working in Malaysia are being exploited by their employers and under imminent risk of losing their legal work status due to flawed and illegal recruitment process, said experts.

Unpaid, underpaid, abused and cheated, around 500 such workers already returned home from the Southeast Asian country and thousands more are likely to follow unless the Bangladesh government takes a proactive effort soon to iron out the issues with its Malaysian counterpart in the greater interest of the country, added the experts.

The experts cautioned that if the Malaysian employers continue the practice of exploitation and abuse, a large number of Bangladeshi workers might resort to leaving their legal jobs and seeking jobs elsewhere in the country, leading to crackdown and deportation by the Malaysian authorities. Since the workers are being scapegoated for the flawed recruitment mechanism -- set by the two countries -- that leaves room for malpractice and abuse, both the governments of the two countries need to remedy the situation urgently, they advised. Mohammad Harun-Al-Rashid, a Bangladeshi labour rights activist working with Tenaganita, a migrants rights organisation in Malaysia, said many workers turn illegal in Malaysia as the recruiters do not complete the workers' medical tests that are required for obtaining work permits. Besides, many underpaid workers who posses work permits cannot afford to renew their permits upon the expiration of the permits in one year and thus "thousands will be irregular as per the immigration act of Malaysia," he added. -The Daily Star, February 20, 2008.

Hasina case verdict
The Supreme Court yesterday adjourned till February 25 the hearing on the government's leave to appeal against the High Court judgment that quashed the Tk 2.99 crore extortion case filed against former premier Sheikh Hasina. Following a time prayer submitted by Hasina's counsel, the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mohammad Ruhul Amin rescheduled the hearing. The government yesterday morning filed the leave to appeal against the High Court's landmark judgment delivered on February 6 that also declared bringing of the case under Emergency Power Rules illegal.

Within an hour of delivery of the High Court verdict, the government filed a provisional leave petition with the Supreme Court seeking a stay order. After a hearing on February 12, the apex court did not stay the High Court judgment and asked the government to file a petition seeking permission to appeal against the High Court judgment by February 19.

During the hearing on the matter yesterday morning, one of Hasina's counsels barrister Shafique Ahmed prayed to adjourn the hearing till February 24 as the senior counsel for Hasina is abroad. Meanwhile, the state counsel Attorney General Fida M Kamal told court that he would be pre-occupied on February 24 with some personal issues. Following their submission, the court scheduled February 25 for hearing on government's leave application. -The Daily Star, February 20, 2008.

Parties must have one-third women in top posts by 2020
The Election Commission (EC) has set 2020 as the deadline for political parties to have women in at least one-third of the party committee posts at all levels. Many political parties during their September-November talks with the commission last year strongly objected to the EC proposal for making this provision effective from this year.

While reviewing the opinions of the political parties last week, the EC decided to relax the provision by inserting the 12-year timeframe for empowering women politically.

The EC, however, rejected a few parties' objections and decided to retain its proposal for banning political parties from having front organisations comprising students, teachers and workers. The commission also held on to its proposal to impose a ban on political parties to have overseas units, commission sources said. According to the EC proposal, a political party intending to be registered with it will have to declare in their constitution that they will not have front organisations of students, teachers and workers, and overseas units. Most political parties that participated in the first round electoral reforms talks with the EC opposed the commission's proposals on women's representation and banning front organisations and overseas units. The commission has been long criticising the "negative" activities of the front organisations and overseas units of the political parties, sources said. -The Daily Star, February 18, 2008.

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


© All Rights Reserved