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09th-Jun-2014

Cambodia's subservient judiciary cannot be for us to follow

By Editorial Desk

We are unhappy to note that the judiciary in Bangladesh of late appears to be increasingly coming under threats from the government if its decisions go against the administration's policy of tightening its grip. The Supreme Court Bar Association and a lawyer separately brought to the attention of the Supreme Court some remarks made by high-ups in government considered disturbing for the independence of the judiciary. The Law Minister Mr. Anisul Huq, as reported in the media, expressed his mind to show he is ready to define for the government the limits on the power of the judiciary. The recent action against a Senior Judicial Magistrate in Brahmanbaria can be cited as an example of the trend in the government to directly intervene in matters of judiciary.  If any judge commits any error of judgement the remedy is available in the judicial process itself by way of appeal and revision. It is not necessary to punish and humiliate a judge. In this judicial magistrate's case though the decision to change her to another court was taken not directly by the government but by the Chief Judicial Magistrate. By the nature of action and the promptness of the reaction suggest a different process is suspected to have worked. Before this, the government showed its displeasure with the High Court Division of the Supreme Court which ordered arrest of the RAB officials on clear suspicion about their involvement in the notorious seven murder case of Narayanganj. Senior Judicial Magistrate Najmun Nahar will not be able to decide whether a case or charge-sheet will be accepted until further notice. The decision against Najmun Nahar was taken by the District's Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mostak Ahmed.The Senior Judicial Magistrate Nahar on Wednesday directed police to lodge a case against nine RAB personnel, including RAB-14 Bhairab camp commander Major AZM Sakib Siddiki, in connection with the murder of businessman Shahnur Alam. Mehedi Hasan, brother of the victim filed a petition before the court on June 1, claiming his brother had been killed by RAB-14 personnel. RAB, he alleged had detained and murdered Alam on April 29.In this background we want to refer to the developments in Cambodia which is under a harsh dictatorship. It cannot be said that the judiciary is free or independent in Cambodia under such dictatorship. We shall hope that Bangladesh government will not be encouraged by the examples of dictators like Cambodia to make our judiciary subservient to it while talking of democracy. Any such attempt will not make the government's position less difficult. There will be more controversy about the government's intention and more resistance. Not only that the government should realize how weak its own foundation is. The government is far from strong other than relying on police power. We know there are some in the government and around it who think more excess will make it easy for the government to remain in power. In fact it is excesses of its power that make a government more vulnerable and easily doomed.    The Cambodian National Assembly passed new laws last month governing the composition and organization of the nation's courts. The net effect is to ratify and reinforce Prime Minister Hun Sen's control over the judiciary. This is in violation of Cambodia's Constitution, which calls for a separation of powers and an independent judiciary. The laws empower the Minister of Justice to oversee the administration of the judicial system and to appoint and discipline judges - means he can determine the outcome in politically sensitive cases. This formalizes the de facto control over the courts Mr. Hun Sen has wielded during almost 30 years in power. All along, the courts have been politicized and made it ineffective and corrupt. It does not have to be this way observed the International New York Times. According to the daily of 6th June: Cambodia's economy has one of the highest growth rates in Asia, climbing an average of over 7 percent between 2001 and 2010, propelled largely by foreign aid and investment and tourism. The problem is a kleptocratic government's hoarding of ill-gained wealth. Cambodians deserve a government of all Cambodians, NYT said. In Bangladesh the corrupt ones are too anxious to use the government for the protection of their stolen money from the people. They want the government to be subservient to the money-power of the corrupt ones. We want the government to be pro-people and not pro-corrupt ones.