BANGLADESH: Formal separation of judiciary must now be made reality

On January 16 the government gazette of Bangladesh announced that the interim president, Professor Iazuddin Ahmed, signed into law the separation of the country’s subordinate judiciary from the executive. This extremely important action was taken, after many years of delays, in accordance with an order from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court six days earlier that the separation be made formally within seven days.

On January 17 the attorney general told the court that the government has already notified the regulations regarding the separation of the subordinate judiciary and three other rules would be imposed within seven days, with one further imposed as an ordinance within 10 days, as required by the 1999 verdict in Masdar Hossain vs. Secretary-Finance Ministry.

The four new regulations are the Judicial Service Commission Rule 2007, Bangladesh Judicial Service Pay Commission Rule 2007, Bangladesh Judicial Service (Service Constitution, Composition, Recruitment, Suspension, Dismissal and Removal) Rules 2007, and Bangladesh Judicial Service (Posting, Promotion, Leave, Control, Discipline and other Service Condition) Rules 2007. The court granted ten days to complete and impose the Rules on the Code of Criminal Procedure, as notified by the attorney general.

The Asian Human Rights Commission welcomes the announcement of the formal separation of the lower judiciary from ministries in Bangladesh, being among those organisations and others who have for some time pushed for this step. However, it shares the concerns of lawyers and others in Bangladesh that there remains a long way to go until the country’s judiciary is made properly independent. It is the hard work towards this end that must now begin. Among the next steps must be:

1. Establishing of a separate secretariat with sufficient funds and personnel for the Judicial Service Commission;

2. Drafting and implementing of a clear and tightly-defined plan for the amended Rules on the Code of Criminal Procedure;

3. Swift appointing of new judicial magistrates to criminal courts around the country; and,

4. Further action to depoliticise the public prosecution department, which has in Bangladesh for years kept the rule of law at bay in collusion with the magistracy.

The Asian Human Rights Commission also urges all legal and related professionals to concentrate their efforts on these desperately-needed reforms to the criminal justice system in order that the people of Bangladesh may at last enjoy some of the rights which they have so long been promised but denied.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-014-2007
Countries : Bangladesh,
Issues : Administration of justice, Corruption, Judicial system, Prosecution system,