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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: 87
September 27 , 2008

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Law week

RTI given go-ahead
The council of advisers gave final approval to the much-awaited Right to Information (RTI) Ordinance 2008 aimed at ensuring people's right to information.

New posts will be created in most of the government offices and non-government organisations (NGOs). Officials holding those posts will provide people with the information they seek within 20 days of receipt of applications from them, says the ordinance. But in cases of issues concerning a person's life and death, arrest and release from jail, the officials will have to provide primary information within 24 hours, it says.

The widely-debated law ensures people's right to information from organisations run with public money, and the NGOs using foreign funds, Information Secretary Jamil Osman, who placed the proposal before the council of advisers, told The Daily Star. The law covers government offices down to upazila level. -The Daily Star, September 21, 2008.

RPO of contention
The Representation of the People Ordinance promulgated on August 19 has already become the centre point of a debate about how the parties should behave themselves in elections and how they should reform themselves for fair polls. As the political parties are widely divided on changes to the RPO, it is worthwhile to take a look at the basic changes the new rules. Following are the highlights of the amendments for the readers to understand how relevant the rules are and what their aim is:

Registration of political parties with the Election Commission is made compulsory and a ban is slapped on having front organisations and overseas units of political parties.

Loan defaulters and war criminals, declared by a local or international court, are made ineligible to run in elections. An option to cast no-vote is given to voters and if 50 percent of votes are no-votes then the constituency will have re-election. -The Daily Star, September 22, 2008.

HC stay on re-demarcation of constituencies throws the spanner
The Election Commission (EC) finds itself in a tight corner in gearing up for the December 18 poll as two of its vital tasks -- preparing the constituency wise electoral rolls and finalising the list of polling stations -- remain suspended because of a High Court (HC) stay on recent re-demarcation of the constituencies.

The stay order will expire on November 6 while the EC must announce the detailed poll schedule in early November in order to allow a required gap of 42 to 45 days between the polling date and the date of announcing the detailed schedule. And constituency wise voter lists are required before announcing the detailed poll schedule.

EC officials said at least a week will be needed to have the constituency wise voter lists ready, which must be available at the offices of returning officers for prospective candidates, as soon as the detailed poll schedule is announced. -The Daily Star, September 22, 2008.

EU pledges continued help in climate change strategy
The European Commission (EC) will continue its support for the Bangladesh government's Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan through substantial contribution to various programmes, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the EC to Bangladesh Dr Stefan Frowein said.

A huge fund is required for mitigation and adaptation projects, said Stefan while speaking as the chief guest at a workshop on 'Climate Change: Facing the Challenge Together,' organised by Institute of Media and Communication Studies at the Chhayanaut Seminar Hall in the capital. The challenges of climate change should be faced with combined efforts by all, he said. Stefan said Bangladesh would be one of the worst sufferers of the impacts of climate change though it is not responsible for emitting greenhouse gas according to the forecasts of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). -The Daily Star, September 23, 2008.

2 new PS start functioning in city today
Two more police stations under Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) start functioning. With the new ones, Darus Salam Police Station and Kadamtoli Police Station, the number of police stations under DMP will rise to 35. Darus Salam Police Station has been set up taking some areas from Mirpur Police Station while Kadamtoli Police Station from Shyampur Police Station. Inspector General of Police Nur Mohammad will formally inaugurate the two police stations. -The Daily Star, September 23, 2008.

36 Bangladeshis held in Delhi
Thirty-six Bangladeshi nationals, including women and children, were arrested in the national capital for residing here without valid documents, police said.

The illegal immigrants were taken into custody from Kalyanpuri in east Delhi during checking in the area on Sunday, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Ajay Choudhury said. Among the arrested, ten are women and 11 are children. Police has intensified its drive to flush out illegal immigrants in the wake of serial blasts in the national capital on September 13 which claimed 24 lives. -The Daily Star, September 23, 2008.

Digitisation must for land reforms
A high-powered government taskforce is going to recommend digitisation of the country's entire land records and turning district administration offices into monitoring bodies from its present role of service provider to ensure transparency and reduce corruption.

Led by former adviser to a caretaker government Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, the five-member taskforce said a commission should be formed comprised of government and non-government experts to spearhead modernisation of records and land registration system.

The proposal notes that the entire reform is possible with the present strength of the government and using local resources without having to take foreign consultancy. -The Daily Star, September 24, 2008.

ACC sits on $7.5m money laundering evidence
A Korean citizen claims that an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) official has stopped proceedings of filing a case regarding laundering of about $7.5 million although National Coordination Committee (NCC) to combat serious crime and corruption has evidence.

Ok-Kyung Oh in a press conference at Jatiya Press Club said a taskforce team this year found evidence of laundering the amount to South Korea by her former husband Bo- Sun Park, chairman of TaeHung Packaging (BD) Ltd, and forwarded the matter to ACC for further action.

She alleged ACC did not make any probe into the matter for mysterious reasons except changing the enquiry officer three times. -The Daily Star, September 25, 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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