Saturday, June 25, 2011

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War crime act not conflicting with constitution: CJ
Syed Anas Pasha, London Correspondent

LONDON: Bangladesh Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Md Muzammel Hossain categorically said that the War Crimes Act of Bangladesh is not repugnant to the constitution, as the question has cropped up in the wake of trial of the wartime crimes.

The CJ came up with the clarification during a courtesy meeting with All Party Parliament Human Rights Group Vice-chairman Lord Avebury at the House of Lords Wednesday at local time 12:00noon.

Supreme Court’s HC division justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and London Correspondent Pasha were also present during the 45-minute-long meeting where different issues of Bangladesh, including the judicial system, were discussed.

Asked whether it is right that the ‘War Crimes Act cannot be challenged in the Supreme Court’, the Chief Justice replied to Avebury: “This is not right.”

Mentioning that a writ petition had been filed with the High Court bringing allegation that the war crimes act is contradictory to constitution, the Chief Justice told Avebury that the High Court rejected the writ saying that the act is not conflicting with the constitution.

“The writ could not be filed if the war crimes law was not liable to be challenged with the Supreme Court,” the CJ asserted.

Terming the judiciary of Bangladesh independent the CJ also said the appointment of justices is being done after consultation with the CJ. “So justices’ appointment is not now a matter of monopoly decision of anyone.”

He also informed that the SC is also playing role in the appointment of lower-court justices.

The CJ also asked Avebury to know whether students of different countries, including Bangladesh, would face job insecurity for carrying out their studies in the UK following the recent change in immigration laws.

Avebury replied, “It is also a matter of concern…How the foreign students will meet the expenses for their study and accommodation if there is dearth of work opportunity.

“We are negotiating with the government the issue though we are also partner.”

Replying to a question from banglanews whether he wants the trial of crimes committed against humanity during the country’s liberation war in 1971, Avebury said, “Of course I want, but the trial should be fair and international-standard.”

There is an amiable relation between the British judiciary and the House of Lords as 11 justices of the British Supreme Court are members of the House of Lords.

Note: During our conversation, on Wednesday June 22, I did explain to the Chief Justice that students were only allowed to work in very limited circumstances. I also told him that the members of the Supreme Court were no longer members of the House of Lords, but some former members of the judicial committee of the House of Lords had been given life peerages. The situation remains confusing for the time being, particularly as judges in the Supreme Court are addressed as 'My Lord'.

The photograph at the entrance to the House is at the moment of departure of the Chief Justice and Justice Shamsuddin Ahmed Manik.

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