Thursday, 23 June 2011

Judiciary ensures rule of law in Bangladesh, Chief justice tells London conference

Chief Justice Muzammel Hossain, stated in London on Tuesday (June 21) that the judiciary had been playing a significant role in ensuring the rule of law and democracy in Bangladesh. 

Speaking at an international conference of jurists on the theme of judicial reforms, Justice Hossain referred to some recent landmark judgements by the higher judiciary in the country, with particular reference to the striking down of the Fifth Amendment to the constitution, and observed that such moves were a reflection of the popular desire to prevent any unconstitutional seizure of power in future by forces opposed to democracy.

The conference has been organised by the International Council of Jurists and has been academically supported by the Bar Council of England and Wales. Bringing together a number of legal luminaries from various countries, the seminar deliberated on a diversity of judicial issues, notably, accountability and judicial reforms; role of corporate governance in strengthening the economy; human rights and terrorism; bribery and corruption; relationship amongst judiciary, legislature and executive; arbitration and mediation.
Justice Hossain, part of a two-member team from Bangladesh that includes Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik, narrated the various measures which have of late been taken to ensure the independence of the judiciary in Bangladesh. For his part, Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury acquainted participants at the conference with the constitutional provisions in Bangladesh relating to a separation of powers among the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government.
He noted the steps which the judiciary has recently taken in the country to ensure smooth functioning of the legal system as well as of broad society, adding that such measures have had the support of the legislature and the executive branch of government.
One of the more dramatic moments of the conference came when Toby Cadman, a British lawyer, questioned the legalities of the process involved in the projected trial of war criminals in Bangladesh. His argument that the measures initiated by the Bangladesh government in carrying the trial process forward left a number of loopholes that needed to be filled in through bringing in internationally accepted standards of justice was roundly protested by a significant number of Bangladeshi as well as British-Bangladeshi lawyers present on the occasion.
Among those who registered their protest and clarified the legal situation relating to the war crimes trial were Barrister Anis Rahman, OBE, and Sonia Zaman Khan, a lawyer currently working towards her Ph.D in the United Kingdom. In his own remarks on Cadman's statement, Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik noted that the British lawyer had not only made grave insinuations against the legal process in Bangladesh but had also chosen the wrong forum to express his views on the war crimes trial in the country. Justice Chowdhury explained in detail the legal procedure adopted in the trial of the war criminals and made it clear that all steps had been taken toward ensuring a trial process based on internationally accepted standards. Mr. Cadman's remarks were subsequently expunged from the proceedings of the conference.
The conference of jurists drew to a close with awards being conferred upon some of the participants. Justice Muzammel Hossain received the international jurists award 2011 'in recognition of his sterling contribution to the machinery of dispensation of justice.'
Among those taking part in the conference were Justice Hassan B. Jallow, chief prosecutor for the United Nations International Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda and former justice minister of Gambia; Vijay Jawahar Darda, member of India's Lok Sabha; Adish C. Aggarwala, President, International Council of Jurists and Chairman, All India Bar Association; Sir Justice Gavin Lightman, Vice President, International Council of Jurists and retired judge of the High Court of England; Sir Desmond de Silva, QC, former Chief Prosecutor of War Crimes Tribunal for Sierra Leone; and Rt. Hon. Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Daily Star 

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