Thursday, August 2, 2007

ACHR on today's Supreme Court Decision

Source: Asian Centre for Human Rights
Bangladesh Supreme Court's indecision on Sheikh Hasina assailed; UN Expert on independence of judiciary urged to intervene

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights denounced the deferral of the order on Shiekh Hasina's bail plea to 14 August 2007 by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh as "a blot to justice". The Supreme Court was scheduled to deliver its judgement today on an appeal filed by the care-taker government challenging the order of the High Court of 30 July 2007. The High Court had granted her bail, stayed the inclusion of the extortion case under the Emergency Powers Rules (EPR) and directed the government to explain within two weeks as to why the approval of the case under the EPR would not be declared illegal.

“This is nothing but the Supreme Court sanctifying continued illegal detention of Sheikh Hasina until 14 August 2007 in clear violation of the cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence – the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

The prime accused in the alleged extortion case, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, former Health Minister was detained by the authorities on 29 May 2007 but was shown arrested only on 14 June 2007 after filing of the First Information Report on the matter on 13 June 2007. There is no direct link or evidence to suggest that the alleged extortion was done at the behest of Sheikh Hasina.

On 24 July 2007, the Investigating Officer (IO) charged Sheikh Hasina only under the Bangladesh Penal Code. Therefore, even the denial of bail to her on 17 July 2007 by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate was illegal as it is the IO who should determine which provisions are to be invoked.

“The detention of Ms Sheikh Hasina is a political conspiracy of the Care-taker government and not a necessity to conduct investigation into the alleged extortion case. Rather, it is the Care-taker government which is interfering with both the investigation and administration of justice by forcing the judiciary including the Supreme Court to invoke the Emergency Power Rules, 2007”. – further stated Mr Chakma.

Citing the Supreme Court's deferral of the order on Sheikh Hasina's bail plea as an example of the lack of the independence of judiciary in Bangladesh, Asian Centre for Human Rights today urged the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judiciary, Mr Leandro Despouy to intervene in the matter.

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