The indemnity ordinance which Bangladesh Government issued on Thursday evening has come under severe scrutiny and criticism by all quarters , political and intellectual alike. This ordinance has been issued to idemnify all actions of the joint forces during Operation Clean Heart which began on October 16 , 2001. The ordinance precludes any move to seek justice in the court of law for custodial deaths and human rights violations during the countrywide clampdown on crime.
The critics say that the government has violated constitutional rights of the citizens. When asked whether the indemnity contradicts the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution, Law Minister Moudud Ahmed said, "There is a provision in the constitution to provide indemnity."
Despite this government is facing the criticism by legal experts , human right activists and intelectuals.
Dr Kamal Hossain, an architect of the country's constitution, has said the government should have placed before the Jatiya Sangsad the Joint Drive Indemnity Ordinance, 2003 for debate and its enactment within the perview of the constitution.Dr Hossain mentioned that the Constitution says everybody is equal in the eye of law and has the right to seek justice. Referring to Article 46 of the Constitution, he said there are provisions for indemnify, but it should come only after parliamentary debate on the issue. He pointed out that Article 46 puts a limitation, stating specific circumstances under which indemnity can be applied. It should be discussed whether the indemnity ordinance was prepared according to Article 46, he said.
Giving an instant reaction on the the ordinance, AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil told a press conference in the city yesterday that "promulgation of the ordinance just before the parliament goes into session bears ominous signs."Terming the 'Joint Drive Indemnity Ordinance, 2003' anti-constitution and anti-fundamental rights, the AL noted that the ordinance would curb peoples' rights to legal recourse.
Barrister Rokonuddin Mahmud believes that giving retrospective effect to indemnifying the actions of the joint forces, during the anti-crime drive, went against the spirit of the Constitution. Barrister Mahmud in an exclusive interview with VOA said that the fact that Government had to promulgate the ordinance by itself proved that there was something wrong in the Joint Operation.
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