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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: 75
July 5 , 2008

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Court Corridor
Law Opinion
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Human Rights Monitor
Rights Investigation
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Law week

Fresh step to shut convicts out of polls
The caretaker government is incorporating a new provision in the Representation of People Order (RPO) Ordinance 2008 to bar individuals convicted by a trial court of criminal offences involving moral turpitude from contesting elections. At present, due to the lack of specific legal provisions an individual convicted by a trial court of such criminal offences can participate in elections while their appeal against the conviction is pending with the higher court.

The new provision drafted by the Election Commission (EC) upon government desire says such a convict will be disqualified from contesting the parliamentary polls while their appeal against the trial court verdict is pending with a higher court. Due to loopholes in the existing electoral laws individuals convicted by the trial courts have come up as candidates for the August 4 city corporation polls. Sources said Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed himself recently expressed concern about how to prevent this. Asked by the chief adviser, senior officials of his office communicated with the EC and requested it to look into the matter. Following the government's desire, the EC drafted the new proposal. The draft was supposed to be sent to the government yesterday for incorporation into the draft RPO, the sources added. -The Daily Star, July 17, 2008.

Attorney General Fida Kamal quits
Attorney General (AG) Fida M Kamal yesterday resigned from his office in the wake of a series of disagreements with the government over a number of issues. He cited "personal" grounds as the reason for his resignation, but a number of government sources confirmed that Fida has had "issues", including several "serious" ones, with the government over the last few months. -The Daily Star, July 17, 2008.

2 mayoral candidates warned for violating code of conduct
The Returning Officer (RO) for Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) poll yesterday issued warnings to two mayoral candidates and a councillor candidate for violating electoral code of conduct. Mayoral candidates AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, a Nagorik Committee nominee and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) leader advocate Raihanur Rahman were issued with the notices for using party affiliations during campaigning. Meanwhile the cabinet division has asked the establishment ministry to transfer the additional divisional commissioner (ADC) of Rajshahi, for approving candidacy of five candidates not eligible to run for local polls, and take necessary action against him. -The Daily Star, July 17, 2008.

Gatco, Niko graft cases against Khaleda stayed
The High Court (HC) yesterday stayed for two months the proceedings of Gatco corruption case filed by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) against detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia. Meanwhile, SC yesterday upheld an HC order staying the proceedings of the Niko graft case filed by the ACC against the former premier. After hearing a writ petition filed by Khaleda Zia, the HC bench comprising Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Mashuque Hosain Ahmed also issued a rule upon the government and the ACC to explain within four weeks why the proceedings of Gatco case against the petitioner (Khaleda) should not be quashed. -The Daily Star, July 16, 2008.

Nizami freed on bail
Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami was released last evening from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) hospital prison cell on a two-month ad interim bail given by the High Court (HC).

Nizami, an ex-minister, was set free around 6:50pm 24 hours after the HC granted him bail in the Gatco corruption case in which BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is also an accused.

Arrested on May 18 at his Moghbazar home in connection with the Gatco case, the Jamaat ameer is the second high-profile political figure to be released, after arrest, since the government launched the anti-corruption drive early last year. Earlier, Awami League President Sheikh Hasina was released on parole for two months on medical grounds. -The Daily Star, July 16, 2008.

Fraud, high costs put workers in trouble: ILO
Excessive cost of finding overseas employments and fraud lead to situations where workers find themselves in debt and enter indentured and slave-like labour, said International Labour Organisation (ILO). "Most blame this on profit margins of recruitment agents, but it is also due to high transaction costs--passports, work permits, documentation," said ILO Director in Dhaka, Panudda Boonpala, yesterday at the inaugural session of a symposium titled "Deployment of workers overseas: A shared responsibility".

In cases where employers pay agencies recruitment costs in advance, there are complaints of unacceptable salary deductions, while in order to pay back their recruiters, workers often go unpaid for months or years, she said. Welcoming the participants, ILO Director Boonpala said the other area of concern is the lack of legal status, which makes workers more vulnerable to exploitation and severely limits their avenues for services. Around one-third Asian migrants working in Asia are considered irregular, she added. Stating that policies have failed to sufficiently protect the rights and interests of migrant workers and their families despite their immense positive value in economy and society, Boonpala said women and young workers are especially vulnerable to violence, sexual harassment and abuses as well as HIV/AIDS. -The Daily Star, July 16, 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


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