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Thursday, October 22, 2020 02:49:51 AM
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CoC a must to make MPs accountable to people

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14th-Oct-2020       
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The parliamentary tools of accountability in Bangladesh remain as ornamental pieces of eyewash as the trajectory of parliamentary oversight has only seen subsequent deterioration over the years. The absence of opposition political parties has further weakened the parliament's ability to play a credible role as the apex lawmaking institution. And surprisingly, the 8th, 9th and 10th and 11th parliament has witnessed a subsequent decline in the participation of the opposition members in parliamentary sessions.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Division has sought actions over violations of the electoral code of conduct (CoC) for local body polls by a lawmaker and a newly elected upazila chairman in Faridpur. We know quite a few lawmakers made headlines for their wrong doings. So far the parliament has failed to uphold its dignity by drawing up a mechanism that would govern how an MP should behave. If there was a CoC for our lawmakers, they would have thought twice before doing anything objectionable or unlawful.
According to a media report in a national daily on Tuesday, the Cabinet Division on Monday wrote to the Prime Minister's Office, the Parliament Secretariat and the Election Commission Secretariat alleging that Mujibur Rahman Chowdhury (Nixon Chowdhury),  an independent lawmaker from Faridpur-4, issued threats in public to the Deputy Commissioner of Faridpur and the Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Charbhadrasan for deploying an "excessive" number of magistrates in the upazila chairman by-polls held on October 10. The MP's threat is a clear violation of the electoral code of conduct for local body polls.
As reported, at different public rallies Nixon Chowdhury used abusive language and gave false and defamatory statements against the DC and others. Nixon told the victory rally that, "You (DC) will not get even a minute to breathe if my people go against you".
Mentionable that code of conducts for lawmakers are not without precedent in history. For the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, the CoC existed over the time in different forms and was finally documented in written form in June 2009 and later amended in April of 2013 and 2015. Its purpose is to assist all MPs in discharging their duties to the House, their constituents and the public in general.
We believe that just passing of the code of conduct is not sufficient, it must be enforceable. The code is important not only for ensuring justice but also to establish a lawmaker's accountability to the people and the parliament. This code may set out the standards of behaviour expected from lawmakers while carrying out their duties and public engagement.


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