Thursday, October 4, 2007

Truth Commission for Businessmen

Bangladesh Government is going to form a "Truth Commission" to have confessions from businessmen accused of corruption with an aim to settle the charges against them without putting them to trial. It is an interesting turn in Bangladesh to put the anti corruption drive in an unprecedented track to salvage the corrupt businessmen. Finally, the businessmen have made the economy and the government hostage to meet their demands. This is a huge retreat for the government from its original stand against corruption. Daily Star reports,
"Businessmen have been repeatedly saying they are in panic, they cannot get involved in their businesses as per their expectation," Mainul said, adding, "Going before the Truth Commission, they will admit to acquiring wealth through dishonest means and will say: 'Fine us or take away our illegally-earned wealth'."

Acknowledging that the identity of an accused--whether they are politicians or businessmen--cannot be considered during the ongoing campaign against corruption, he said, "Since this government's prime objective is to ensure democracy and good governance through elections, we cannot deal all types of corruption the same way."
Three cheers for Barrister Moinul Hossain!!!

But why is the army backed care taker government using the concept of "Truth Commission"? So, we did our little research on the history and implication of Truth Commission around the world. We've come across with an in-depth analysis from Beyond Intractability. Here's how they defined Truth Commission:
Truth commissions are generally understood to be "bodies set up to investigate a past history of violations of human rights in a particular country -- which can include violations by the military or other government forces or armed opposition forces."[1] Hayner delineates four main characteristics of truth commissions. [2]

  • First, they focus on the past. The events may have occurred in the recent past, but a truth commission is not an ongoing body akin to a human rights commission.
  • Second, truth commissions investigate a pattern of abuse over a set period of time rather than a specific event. In its mandate, the truth commission is given the parameters of its investigation both in terms of the time period covered as well as the type of human rights violations to be explored.
  • Third, a truth commission is a temporary body, usually operating over a period of six months to two years and completing its work by submitting a report. These parameters are established at the time of the commission's formation, but often an extension can be obtained to wrap things up.
  • Fourth, truth commissions are officially sanctioned, authorized, or empowered by the state. This, in principle, allows the commission to have greater access to information, greater security, and increased assurance that its findings will be taken under serious consideration. Official sanction from the government is crucial because it represents an acknowledgment of past wrongs and a commitment to address the issues and move on. Furthermore, governments may be more likely to enact recommended reforms if they have established the commission.
The very survival of the economy of Bangladesh now largely depends on its business community. Indeed, if the rich and influential businessmen of Bangladesh don't survive during the anti corruption drive, how will the country survive? Let them be free. After all, they're not dreadful War Criminals, or Mass Killers. Even the War Criminals are walking free in Bangladesh. Have the Army backed CTG yet realized that they've terribly crossed their mandated boundary? They didn't have any other choice left but to retreat from its own promise. Let's borrow the concept of "Truth Commission" to save the face of a faceless government.

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