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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: 60
March 15 , 2008

This week's issue:
Law Report
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Human Rights Advocacy
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Law week

Make 'crossfire', torture in police custody punishable offence
Participants at a consultative meeting on the proposed police reform ordinance in Cox's Bazar yesterday said 'crossfire' and inhuman torture in police custody should be made punishable offence. About a hundred people drawn from different sections of the society took part in the meeting, presided over by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police at Chittagong Range AKM Shahidul Haq. The meeting was part of similar meetings across the country which aim at assimilating popular views into the proposed reforms.

Most of the participants viewed that 'crossfire' is against the existing laws and religion also does not permit this. They held that the political party in power would tend to take advantage of 'crossfire' if the practice is not made a punishable offence.Similarly, torture of the accused on remand in a bid to extract confessional statement as desired by the police should also be made punishable offence. The participants also suggested revoking Section 54 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). They said detention under the Special Powers Act violates the basic rights of the people guaranteed by the constitution.

They lauded the government move to reform the age-old police law and called for making the police force friendly to the people. -UNB, March 10, 2008

Upazila Parishad Act
The council of advisers yesterday finalised the proposed amendment to the Upazila Parishad Act to revoke power of parliament members over the parishads and empower the Election Commission (EC) to announce schedules for holding polls to the parishads.

President Iajuddin Ahmed will promulgate an ordinance in a couple of days amending the Upazila Parishad Act 1998 to this effect, sources said. “Once the law is amended, the upazila parishads after being formed through elections will be able to function independently, free from interference of lawmakers,” an adviser to the caretaker government told The Daily Star last night. And the EC will have the authority again to fix timeframe for holding polls to upazila parishads, a crucial tier of the local government system, which has been victim of partisan politics. Section 25 of the existing law empowers lawmakers to become advisers to upazila parishads binding it to accept their suggestions. -The Daily Star, March 11, 2008

Govt won't pass any anti-Islam law
The caretaker government has not passed any "law" regarding inheritance, Law Adviser AF Hassan Ariff yesterday said, adding that the National Women Development Policy, 2008 has been misinterpreted. During a view exchange meeting with the Ulema (Islamic scholars) at Islamic Foundation in Baitul Mukarram, the adviser also said that the government has no plan to enact any law that goes against the rules and spirit of Islam.

"No such 'law' has been passed about inheritance and there is no question of enacting such a law," Hassan Ariff, also adviser to the religious affairs ministry, said adding "it is really regretful as a situation of misunderstanding is created over a matter that does not exist at all." The adviser held lack of communication for the wrong representation of the policy and stressed the need for enacting Right to Information Act to avoid any such confusion over government decision in future.

At the meeting, the Ulema urged the Muslims of the country not to act on any rumours or speech that is given by 'people or the media who usually talk against the spirit of Islam.'

The meeting was convened as rumours spread that the latest women development policy contains statement on inheritance law that opposes Islam. Hassan Ariff told the meeting that the responsibility of the present caretaker government is to hold election and there was not even any discussion among the advisers to pass any law regarding inheritance.

Acting Khatib of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque Mufti Mohammad Nur Uddin observed that no human being has the power to formulate rules or laws that contradict the Quran and the Sunnah. "There is no question of ensuring equal rights to women on inheritance, but they should be ensured their due rights," he told the meeting.-The Daily Star, March 12, 2008

Trial of war criminals a must to establish justice
The demand for trying war criminals has become a national issue and the government must make its response, speakers at a roundtable yesterday said. They said the trial of war criminals is required to establish justice in the society. Mentioning that representatives of the anti-liberation war element Jamaat-e-Islami have penetrated different organs of the government as well as the armed forces, speakers observed that the government has turned its back on its earlier stance regarding the trial of war criminals. The speakers--liberation war heroes, eminent educationists, university teachers, human rights activists, writers, poets, cultural activists, journalists--urged all to socially boycott the anti-liberation war elements and war criminals. They said their demand for bringing the war criminals to book is not an act of vengeance but an effort to ensure justice in society.

They said that at least a token trial of war criminals should be held. Prof Kabir Chowdhury raised questions about the sincerity of the caretaker government in bringing the war criminals to book. "There is nothing more important than trying the war criminals," the veteran educationist said. He urged the government to form special tribunals under International Crimes (tribunals) Act, 1973 and start the process of trial of war criminals. Making reference to the South African truth and reconciliation commission, Kabir said those who are talking about establishing truth and reconciliation commission and forgive the war criminals through the commission are not right. "How the question of forgiving the war criminals through the truth commission can come up when they [war criminals] do not admit their crimes," Kabir said. .-The Daily Star, March 12, 2008.

3 ordinances by this month to empower local govt
The government is going to promulgate ordinances on local government commission, city corporations and pourashavas by the end of this month aiming to grant more power to the local government bodies. An inter-ministerial meeting presided by Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Adviser Anwarul Iqbal yesterday finalised the drafts of Local Government Commission Ordinance 2008, City Corporation Ordinance 2008 and Pourashava Ordinance 2008. "We have finalised the drafts of the ordinances and will send those to the advisory council after March 21 when the chief adviser returns," Anwarul Iqbal said. He was addressing a press briefing after the meeting at the conference room of Local Government Division.

In the meantime, the drafts would be sent to the law ministry, so that the ministry's task could be done fast when the advisory council forwards the drafts to it for vetting, the LGRD adviser said. Once the ordinances are promulgated, the Election Commission (EC) can declare schedules of the local government elections, he added. .-The Daily Star, March 12, 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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