World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Bangladesh: Why Should Judicial Independence Be Delayed?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-010-2013
January 8, 2013

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

Bangladesh: Why Should Judicial Independence Be Delayed Any Further?

The judiciary of Bangladesh is struggling to be an independent institution, free from executive control since the inception of the country. This struggle was formally exposed when a group of judicial officers led by Mr. Masdar Hossain - currently a District and Sessions' Judge - took the matter to the High Court Division in 1995.

The Supreme Court directed the government, vide its judgment dated 2 December 1999, that how the judiciary should be separated - in terms of its day-to-day functions, formally as an institution and financially, from the executive. Regrettably, governments failed to comply with the Supreme Court's directions, that otherwise would have severed the bondage between the judiciary and the executive. Had the Court's decree complied with, it would have provided the judiciary its much lacking independence.

In the recent weeks, the Supreme Court has taken up the issue once again. The Court has directed the government to ensure financial independence of the judiciary, by increasing the salaries and other financial benefits of the judicial officers. The government, apparently due to bureaucratic pressure, is yet to implement the Court's order.

The government has undeniable obligation to ensure judicial independence. According to the Basic Principles of the Independence of Judiciary, adopted in the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, in Milan, in 1985, all nation-states are obligated to ensure judicial independence within their territories.

The first basic principle is that "he independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by the State and enshrined in the Constitution or the law of the country. It is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary."

The Government of Bangladesh, could, if it wishes, draw inspiration from history of how judicial institutions' structural developments came out. According to Cornwallis Code, the office of the District Judge was made independent from the executive in 1793 in the then Bengal, from which today's Bangladesh has emerged. Magisterial power was transferred to the District Judge from the District Collector when Conwallis Code was in practice. Bangladesh's national encyclopaedia BANGLAPAEDIA informs that "n the administrative hierarchy, the district judge is placed higher than the district collector in respect of pay and status."

There are several provisions in the current Constitution that guarantees judicial independence. For example, in Article 22, reads: "The State shall ensure the separation of the judiciary from the executive organs of the State". This provision clearly states about the obligation of the government to ensure judicial independence.

Article 35 (3) of the Constitution states: "Every person accused of a criminal offence shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an independent and impartial Court or tribunal established by law." Here, having an independent judiciary is a fundamental right to all the citizens of Bangladesh.

Article 94 (4) asserts that: "Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Chief Justice and the other Judges shall be independent in the exercise of their judicial functions." Financial independence is an integral part of the concept of judicial independence.

The growth and maturity of a true democracy within the overall fabric of the rule of law requires an independent judiciary. This is a basic learning that Bangladesh should have had, and gained during the last four decades of independent existence as a nation state. Instead, a shadow of what is otherwise understood, as "the judiciary", under the control of the ruling regime, could only be good to harass political opponents, deny civil liberties and to foster impunity.

Unfortunately in Bangladesh, the entire justice framework, most importantly the criminal justice institutions have remained a far cry of what an independent institutional ought to be. This is reflected in disappearances, extra-judicial executions, widespread reportage of torture and other forms of custodial violence, all incidents in which one of the most powerful limb of the executive, the law-enforcement agencies have their footprints. The criminal justice apparatus of the country is incapable, ill-equipped and is less empowered due to its servitude with the executive to deal with these human rights and civil liberty abuses.

This has resulted in drastic reduction in the notion of justice in the country. People's faith in the judiciary will not strengthen until judicial independence becomes the norm and the government guarantees it in thought and action. The prevailing context in Bangladesh is however contrary to this state obligation.

Read this statement online

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news