World perception of our justice system must not be ignored10 March 2014 Editorial Desk
A news report published in The New Nation on Friday quoted a global watchdog agency which berated Bangladesh's justice system as 'inefficient' putting the country at the bottom of the table in comparison with other countries on a global scale. It found that the judiciary in Bangladesh is afflicted with corruption and political interference. The 'Rule of Law Index 2014' by the World Justice Project (WJP) said the country has serious deficiencies in most aspects of implementing the rule of law. The Washington-based organization raised appalling concerns about human rights violations and police abuses as significant problems in dispensing justice in Bangladesh.
The index is a quantitative assessment tool designed to offer a comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law and practice it. As per the report, Bangladesh ranked 92nd globally and 4th among six South Asian countries in overall rule of law performance.
It achieved the worst score in corruption and in civil and criminal justice out of the eight indicators. The index showed Bangladesh stands at the 92nd position in civil justice, 94th in criminal justice, 95th in absence of corruption, meaning it is a highly corrupt nation. The rating further showed it stands at 80th position in constraints on government powers, 85th in open government, 87th in preservation of fundamental rights and 76th in maintaining order and security. The report viewed order and security position as better in Bangladesh than some other regional countries but this in turn reflects the brutal use of force by the government to subdue opposition in their indoor and outdoor activities.
The WJP voiced concerns regarding the courts and administrative agencies nexus with corruption and political abuse of powers. The use of violence to restrain personal grievances remains a matter of high concern, according to WJP.
In fact, in any form of governance in any age, we hold the view that the rule of law and independence of judiciary are the most important institutions for civilised existence. Weakness of the justice system only weakens the general public for seeking justice. If justice system is hopeless, then, we have to admit, that as a nation we have hopelessly failed to secure justice for our people.
It is not that we fully agree with the picture of the judiciary as depicted in the World Justice Project, but yet we have to express deep concern at state of our justice system. But most of the blame has to be borne by the government because unless democracy is well-protected no government feels comfortable with the rule of law or independence of the judiciary. Our political leaders have been able to pave the way for destruction of democracy.
Yet, we have to say that we have brave judges not ready to yield to corruption or interference from the government. But the politicisation system we have, is affecting the independence of the lawyers as well as the independence of the judiciary. It is unfortunate for the judiciary where lawyers do not care to maintain their professional independence. Failing democracy and all pervasive corruption cannot also be helpful for the justice system. The other name of politics is corruption. So when criticising the judiciary, political system cannot also escape the blame.
Our hope lies in the brave and honest judges. But as people we have to show more awareness of our responsibility for protecting our rights including the right to fair justice.