Opinion: People have no right to know of foreign deals!
05:05 PM, April 10, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:37 PM, April 10, 2017

Opinion: People have no right to know of foreign deals!

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Transparency International Bangladesh has hit the nail on the head by raising the demand for placing in parliament all the treaties signed with India during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Delhi to let people know about them.

While unveiling its parliament-watch report on Sunday, the TIB top officials made the demand. They said people, who are the owner of the country, have constitutional right to know detail about the deals signed by Bangladesh with any foreign country.    

Article 145A of the constitution clearly says: "All treaties with foreign countries shall be submitted to the President, who shall cause them to be laid before Parliament."

They are absolutely right with their demand and opinion.  

Article 145A of the constitution clearly says: "All treaties with foreign countries shall be submitted to the President, who shall cause them to be laid before Parliament."

People will come to know about the treaties through their elected representatives once they are placed in parliament.

The constitutional provision is also aimed at ensuring transparency of the government in making deals with foreign countries.

Read More: Dhaka, Delhi sign 22 deals

Even the people's right to know has been given so much priority that the constitution does not allow the government to refrain from placing any treaty on excuse of national security.

A clause of the constitutional provision says if any treaty involves national security, it would be placed in a secret session of parliament.

So, there is no ambiguity in it. The constitution gives utmost priority to ensure people's right to know.

Read More: Bangladesh-India defence cooperation

If people do not have necessary information, they can not form independent opinion. Such situation is against freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution. And it is not healthy for a democracy as people need to be well informed to exercise their democratic rights.

But the reality is opposite to the constitutional provision.

TIB, the anti-graft watchdog, said at least 59 treaties were signed by Bangladesh government in around last two years. But none of them was placed in parliament. This undermined the constitution, claimed TIB.

TIB spoke about last two years. But the saga of undermining the constitutional provision and denying people's right to know is very long.

Bangladesh signed numerous treaties, conventions, protocols, and charters. Though they all are considered as treaties, none of those has been placed in parliament in more than last three decades since the constitutional provision was introduced in 1978.

This is evident that the constitution empowers people with the right to know. But the government has kept denying people's right to know by ignoring the constitutional provision.

All the successive governments in around last four decades have been following the same policy of not allowing people to know much about the treaties signed by them with foreign countries.

The two political archrivals-- Awami League and BNP-- have been fighting each other for many issues. But they have similarity in ignoring the constitutional provision to deny people's right to know.

BNP is now demanding the government to disclose all the deals signed with India. But when the party was in power, it forgot the constitutional provision. When the AL was in opposition, it did the same.

All of their actions denied people's right to know guaranteed by the constitution. The current situation tells a story in which it seems people have no right to know.     

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