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HRW asks B`desh not to restrict powers of anti-corruption body

Last Updated: Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 12:48

Washington: A leading human rights group
has asked the Bangladeshi government to reject amendments that
would restrict the ability of the Anti-Corruption Commission
to take independent action against corrupt officials,
including those in the ruling party.

Noting that corruption is a grave problem in
Bangladesh, corroding faith in government and undermining the
rule of law and efforts at reforming institutions like the
police and army, Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams
said: "Creating laws that shield government officials from
prosecution would send a clear message that the government is
not serious in fighting corruption."

A cabinet committee established in 2009 to review
Bangladesh`s anti-corruption legislation has proposed
amendments requiring the Anti-Corruption Commission, which was
established by law in 2004, to obtain permission from the
government before taking legal action against government
officials and members of parliament suspected of corruption.

The HRW said government has recommended to the courts
and the Anti-Corruption Commission that they withdraw hundreds
of corruption cases initiated against Awami League supporters
on the grounds that they were "politically motivated" cases
filed under previous governments.

However, most similar cases against the political
opposition have not been recommended for withdrawal, it noted.
"In Bangladesh, those in positions of power have
regularly used the law to undermine their political rivals,"
Adams said.

"While there has been a need to deal with this
problem, it is important for the ruling party to ensure that
it does not create the impression that it is favoring its
members. It should leave it to the judiciary to weed out
unfair charges," he added.


First Published: Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 12:48
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