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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: 81
August 16 , 2008

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Elected city leaders won't quit party posts
The Awami League (AL)-backed mayors- and councillors-elect prepare to pursue a legal challenge against the new electoral rules that require the winners to resign their party positions before taking the oath of office.

The Local Government (City Corporation) Ordinance-2008 and Local Government (Municipality) Ordinance-2008 were promulgated by the army-backed caretaker administration to deal with the formation and functions of the local government bodies.

But those elected in the August 4 polls, mostly belonging to AL, view those as 'unconstitutional' and 'undemocratic'.

The AL policymakers on Sunday directed the mayors-elect to challenge the laws at courts, said party insiders.

Talukder Abdul Khaleque, the mayor-elect of Khulna City Corporation, said, “Since the High Court ruled that the candidates can use their political identities in the polls and scrapped the curbs in that regard, then why we should have to leave our party posts.”

Talking to The Daily Star, he said he is now in Dhaka consulting lawyers to file a writ petition with the High Court soon. -The Daily Star, August 12, 2008.

Top graft suspects' huge wealth stays safe for legal barriers
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) could have charged Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan alias Shah Alam with amassing ill-gotten wealth worth Tk 606 crore had he not whitened Tk 498 crore under the money whitening schemes offered by successive governments.

The anti-graft watchdog on Sunday finally charged him with amassing ill-gotten wealth worth only about Tk 107 crore. Alam whitened the money over the years during the rule of both Awami League and BNP.

Detained businessman Giasuddin Al Mamun also whitened Tk 30.22 crore taking the same opportunity, while his brother former lawmaker Hafiz Ibrahim and his wife Mafruza Sultana whitened Tk 11 crore under 2005 SRO (Statutory Regulatory Order) on different occasions.

Like Shah Alam, Mamun and Ibrahim, many high-profile graft suspects whitened huge amount of ill-gotten wealth and ACC cannot take action against them due to legal barriers. -The Daily Star, August 12, 2008.

45 cheated workers return from KL
Battered by employers and cheated by agents, 45 Bangladeshi workers returned from Malaysia after over one year with bruises all over their bodies.

The returnees who spent over Tk 2 lakh each to get an overseas job allege Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur did not address their issue. As a result, they had to leave the "dreamland", which has now turned a "nightmare".

At a press conference organised by IMA Research Foundation at Dhaka Reporters Unity, Shahadat Hossain said he went to Malaysia in a group of 40 through recruiting agency Mark Overseas in July last year and was employed in plastic company Classic Board Services Servicing Centre in Kelang at monthly RM 700.

"We were told that we would work 12 hours, but we had to work 18 to 20 hours a day. In case of any single mistake, the Chinese boss would beat us up," he said.

He said the workers were given work target and if anyone failed to fulfil it, the boss used to hit them hard. Fifteen of the workers fled the company in less than a month as they could no longer endure the torture.

Arifur Rahman of Mark Overseas said he learned that there were problems and Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur tried to solve those. He however said he did not exactly know what the problems were. -The Daily Star, August 12, 2008.

Thaksin flees to UK amid graft case
Deposed Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his family have fled to the United Kingdom, the former leader said after he and his wife skipped a hearing on corruption charges in a Thai court.

A handwritten statement from Thaksin issued Monday said he fled because he could not expect justice in Thai courts. It came amid newspaper reports that he would seek asylum in Britain.

"My wife and I have travelled to reside in England," Thaksin said in the statement. "If I still have luck, I would come back and die on Thai soil like every other Thai person."

Thaksin's statement, which did not mention asking for asylum, was read Monday afternoon on state-run television. -The Daily Star, August 12, 2008.

Govt reinstates Aug 15 as Nat'l Mourning Day
In compliance with a recent High Court (HC) ruling, the government reinstated August 15 as National Mourning Day and a public holiday to commemorate the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The decision came at a weekly meeting of the council of advisers, said Chief Adviser's Press Secretary Syed Fahim Munaim.

The last BNP-led alliance government had cancelled the state observance of August 15 in 2002. The HC on July 27 declared the decision illegal. It also cancelled the order that had prohibited flying of the national flag at half-mast on the day.

August 15 was first declared National Mourning Day by the then Awami League (AL) government in 1996. -The Daily Star, August 11,2008.

Factory in Gazipur set ablaze; owners blame 'outsiders'
Garment workers demanding back pay ransacked at least 15 garment factories and four shopping centres at Jamgorah in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital.

The violence triggered closing of more than 60 garment factories in the area.

The agitating workers also blockaded the Dhaka-Tangail highway for over two hours and vandalized three vehicles, causing panic and a severe traffic jam.

At least 20 people were injured as police clubbed the mob of agitators to restore order in the area.

Meanwhile in Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ), two garment factories -- Softex Sweater Factory and Feather Light -- were shut down for various other reasons. Softex was closed due to labour unrest while Feather Light for insufficient work order, said sources.

In a late development, angry workers set fire to a factory of Meem Garments in Gazipur around 8:30pm damaging a huge quantity of fabrics and yarns.

Five units of fire fighters from Tongi and Gazipur rushed to the spot and put out the blaze around 11:00pm. -The Daily Star, August 11,2008.

Registration With EC
Three major political parties -- Awami League (AL), BNP and Jatiya Party --- must amend their constitutions severing ties with at least 17 of their auxiliary organisations in order to be registered with the Election Commission (EC), according to the planned new electoral law.

The parties will also have to scrap from their constitutions the provision that allows them to have overseas chapters.

A new provision in the electoral law will make it mandatory for political parties to be registered with the EC for becoming eligible to contest in the parliamentary poll.

The council of advisers to the caretaker government on Wednesday approved a number of proposed amendments to the Representation of People's Order (RPO) 1972.

But successful implementation of the proposed laws remains uncertain as major political parties have been vehemently opposing the restriction on having auxiliary organisations of students and professionals. -The Daily Star, August 10, 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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