Bangladesh: Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) Endorses the call for a return to the rule of law in Bangladesh
December 15, 2008: LRWC joins with the jurists, lawyers and legal academics from throughout Asia who assembled in Hong Kong on November 17-21, 2008 for the Fourth Regional Consultation on an Asian Charter for the Rule of Law and who approved an important resolution of support for the rule of law in Bangladesh and against the military government.
LRWC views with alarm the derogation of the rule of law, the violations of basic freedoms and the intimidation of human rights defenders in Bangladesh, since President Iajuddin Ahmed declared the State of Emergency in January 2007. Under this state of emergency– which has no basis in Bangladesh or international law–political demonstrations are banned, arrests are made without warrants, and persons are arbitrarily detained without charges.
While the current government styles itself as a “caretaker government,” Bangladesh is in fact ruled by a disguised military junta. In violation of the Constitution of Bangladesh, the current government has delayed elections for parliament until December 29, 2008, and it is unclear whether or not these elections will be conducted in accordance with international standards, and whether those who oppose the current regime will be permitted to freely campaign, whether they will be intimidated or arrested, or whether elections of any integrity at all will take place. The current government has said that it will “permit” campaigning for this election, but LRWC is concerned that the current government will not keep its promise and ultimately will not surrender its power to a lawfully elected government.
The resolution of the Fourth Regional Consultation on an Asian Charter for the Rule of Law calls for a return to the rule of law, an independent judiciary, an independent prosecution arm and – of particular importance to LRWC – an end to the harassment of lawyers and other human rights defenders seeking to protect the rights of Bangladeshis, rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution of Bangladesh This harassment, which began before and has continued since, the declaration of the State of Emergency has included the arrest and prosecution of these courageous human rights defenders on fabricated evidence.
LRWC calls upon the Government of Bangladesh to implement the recommendations of the resolution of the Fourth Regional Consultation on an Asian Charter for the Rule of Law, to ensure that the elections set for December 29 2008 are fairly conducted in accordance with international standards and thereafter to act to ensure the timely, orderly and peaceful transfer to power to the elected government.
Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of Canadian lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law internationally by providing support to lawyers and other human rights defenders in danger because of their advocacy. LRWC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
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