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April 29, 2013

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April 29, 2013

ASK and BLAST challenge inaction over corporal punishment of children in schools and madrasas »

July 18, 2010

High Court show cause on govt, direction on Education Ministry

Two human rights groups, ASK and BLAST, today challenged the systematic failure of the Government to take action regarding repeated and severe incidents of corporal punishment – including caning, beating and chaining of children by teachers in schools and madrasas as a gross violation of human rights.¹ The case was brought following the reported suicide on Wednesday last week of a 10 year old boy, a student of a government school in Mymensingh after he had been beaten by a school teacher earlier in the day, and in the wake of dozens of such cases being reported in the press over the past year.²

The High Court directed the Government to show cause why a) it should not declare the involvement of government employees in such violence, and the failure to take any effective measures for prevention, or prosecution and punishment of those responsible, to be a violation of the rights to freedom from cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment or punishment guaranteed under the Constitution and b) why it should not direct the Government to conduct trainings for all teachers, regular inspection and monitoring of schools, and disseminate information through the national media about corporal punishment as a wrong and a human rights violation.

The Court also issued interim orders a) on concerned Ministries and the Boards of Education to report within two months on measures taken to investigate, prosecute and punish such incidents of corporal punishment and b) on the Ministry of Education to immediately instruct all primary and secondary educational institution by circular to refrain from carrying out any incident of corporal punishment on any child in any such institution.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Md Imman Ali and Justice Obaidul Hasan issued the Rule. The writ petition was filed by Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (www.blast.org.bd) and Ain o Salish Kendra (www.askbd.org). Sara Hossain appeared for the petitioners, with Abantee Nurul, Bulbul Rabeya Banu and Majhabeen Rabbani, Advocates. The matter is to be heard again on 4 August 2010.

For further information, please contact:
Abantee Nurul, Advocate, ASK  01713 266624 ask@citechco.net
Farida Yeasmin/Mahbuba Akhter, BLAST 01711 076240/ 01191 365001, farida@blast.org.bd 

¹The petitioners argued that the failure of the concerned Ministries and Boards of Education to take action amounted to a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution and under international human rights treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

² Reported incidents between March to July 2010 included the chaining of a 7 year old madrasa student for ‘indiscipline’, and severa beatings and canings resulting in hospitalization of several students, including caning of 25 students after their failure to bring coloured pencils to school, and hospitalization of 8 of them; beating of a girl student of a madrasa in Bandarban for three days;  beating of a 13 year old boy student in a madrasa; and the beating of a girl student with disabilities for her failure to contribute to a school fund.

Writ petitions of ASK, BLAST, BRAC, BMP and Nijera Kori »

July 8, 2010

HC rules against all extra-judicial punishments

The High Court in a verdict on 8 July 2010 declared all kinds of extrajudicial punishment including those made in the name of fatwa in local arbitration illegal and without lawful authority. The court also directed the authorities concerned to take punitive action against the people involved in enforcing fatwa against women. Anyone involved or taking part in or assisting in any such conviction or execution would come under purview of the offences under the penal code and be subject to punishment, the court ordered.

The court observed infliction of brutal punishment including caning, whipping and beating in local salish [arbitration] by persons devoid of judicial authority constitutes violation of the constitutional rights and people’s rights to life and equal protection have to be treated in accordance with the law. The court said- as per the rules of the Constitution, the citizens will not be subject to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.

The High Court bench of Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore came up with the verdict in response to three separate writs. The petitions were filed by rights organisations — Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, BRAC Human Rights and Legal Services, and Nijera Kori, and four Supreme Court lawyers — Advocate Salahuddin Dolon, Barrister Mahbub Shafique, Advocate AKM Hafizul Alam and Barrister Imaran-ul Hye.

Barrister Sara Hossain, Advocate Salahuddin Dolon, Barrister Mahbub Shafique appeared for the petitioners and Deputy Attorney General Ekram Hossain Manju for the state.

Background: The writ petition was filed by the five organizations last year and the lawyers filed two separate writs this year, seeking necessary directives from the Court to stop extrajudicial punishment in the name of fatwa. The petitions were filed following several newspaper reports and investigations by the petitioners into violence inflicted on women in the name of fatwa by local religious leaders and powerful corners. It was alleged in the petitions that a number of deaths, suicides and incidents of grievous hurt of women were reported arising from punishment given in salish, but the law- enforcement agencies took no action to prevent those unlawful actions. The petitions referred to international obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979.

Earlier on August 25 last year, the High Court directed the secretary to Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, officials of the law-enforcement agencies and the chairmen of union parishads and municipalities to take immediate measures against extrajudicial penalties in salish. It also issued a rule asking them to show cause as to why their failure to prevent such illegal acts in compliance with their statutory obligations should not be declared illegal.

ASK's contempt of court petition »

June 10, 2010

VC and registrar of JU appeared before the court

High Court directed the VC and the Registrar of Jahangirnagar University to ensure the security of the complainant and not to harass her in discharging her duty in the University.

The High Court bench comprising of Justice Sayed Mahmud Hossain and Justice Gobinda Chondra Tagore gave this direction as the Vice Chancellor (VC) and Registrer of the University appeared before the court today in a contempt of court petition filed by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK). Barrister Sara Hossain conducted the case on behalf of ASK.

Earlier on 3 June 2010 the Court directed VC Prof. Sharif Enamul Kabir and the Acting Registrar Mr Abu Bakar Siddique to appear in Court on 10 June and to show cause why proceedings for contempt should not be drawn up against them.

Background: Jahangirnagar University is currently conducting an internal inquiry into an allegation of sexual harassment against a university teacher. The inquiry is being conducted by a five person Complaints Committee headed by a senior woman teacher of the University.

During the course of the inquiry, an advertisement was published on behalf of the University, under the signature of the Registrar in Charge, in several national newspapers on 27 April 2010 referring to the inquiry and disclosing the name of the complainant. In a news report broadcast on ATN on 1 May, the Vice Chancellor referred to the complainant and said she had not filed the petition herself but had been made to do so under duress by others.

ASK then sent legal notices to the University, the VC, the Chairperson of the Complaints Committee, and the Registrar in Charge. In their responses the Registrar and the Chairperson of the Complaints Committee commented that the complainant’s name had been earlier disclosed in the media and also by certain teachers of the University. However, they did not give any specific response regarding the specific duty on them not to disclose under Clause 8 or Clause 10 iii of the Guidelines.

High court orders VC and registrar of JU to show cause »

June 3, 2010

HIGH COURT ORDERS VICE CHANCELLOR AND REGISTRAR IN CHARGE OF JAHANGIRNAGAR UNIVERSITY TO SHOW CAUSE RE CONTEMPT FOR DISCLOSING IDENTITY OF COMPLAINANT

The High Court today directed Prof. Sharif Enamul Kabir and Mr Abu Bakar Siddique to appear in Court on 10 June, and to show cause why proceedings for contempt should not be drawn up against them. The orders were issued in a petition filed by Ain o Salish Kendra, alleging that the University Officials had violated provisions of the Guidelines on Sexual Harassment Guidelines contained in the High Court’s earlier judgment dated 14 May 2008. Clause 8a and 10iii specifically require the University Authority not to disclose the identity of the complainant till the allegation is proven, and the Complaints Committee to keep the identity of the complainant confidential¹.

Background:  Jahangirnagar University is currently conducting an internal inquiry into an allegation of sexual harassment against a university teacher. The inquiry is being conducted by a five person Complaints Committee headed by a senior woman teacher of the University.

During the course of the inquiry, an advertisement was published on behalf of the University, under the signature of the Registrar in Charge, in several national newspapers on 27 April 2010 referring to the inquiry and disclosing the name of the complainant. In a news report broadcast on ATN on 1 May, the Vice Chancellor referred to the complainant and said she had not filed the petition herself but had been made to do so through others.
ASK then sent legal notices to the University, the VC, the Chairperson of the Complaints Committee, and the Registrar in Charge. In their responses the Registrar and the Chairperson of the Complaints Committee commented that the complainant’s name had been earlier disclosed in the media and also by certain teachers of the University. However, they did not given any specific response regarding the specific duty on them not to disclose under Clause 8 or Clause 10iii of the Guidelines.

For further information, please contact

Abantee Nurul, 01731 266624 ask@citechco.net
Sara Hossain, 01713 031828, sarahossain@gmail.com

 

¹See High Court Guidelines contained in judgment dated 14.5.2009 in Writ Petition No. 5916 of 2008):

Clause 8(a): It must be ensured that the identity of the complainant and also that of the accused will not be disclosed until the allegation is proved.

Clause 10(iii) The complainant committee will keep the identities of the complainant/s confidential.

BMDC asked to explain inaction over interns' strike »

June 1, 2010

High court issued rule upon ASK’s writ petition

The High Court on Tuesday asked the authorities of the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) to report back to the court on what steps have been taken against intern doctors who often refrain from duty because they are on strike.

The High Court bench of Justice Mohammad Imman Ali and Justice Obaidul Hassan passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), challenging the inaction of the BMDC in connection with the strikes of the interns at various hospitals.

It was highlighted in the petition that many patients have died as the interns have sometimes refused to provide all kinds of services, including emergency treatment, in the name of strike and prevented other doctors from discharging their duties. Besides, the interns have often misbehaved with the patients’ attendants. Although Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council can take legal action against the interns’ misconduct as per the Act 1980, they have not done so as yet. At the same time the Government also has not been able to show any success in maintaining the quality of treatment and service in the hospitals spread over the country.

Barrister Sara Hossain conducted the case on behalf of ASK where ASK lawyers Abu Obaidur Rahman, Abantee Nurul and Mahjabin Rabbani assisted her.

ASK and three others issued legal notice to open up opportunity for the persons with disabilities to take part in the BCS examination »

April 1, 2010

On 1st April 2010 ASK, BLAST, ADD and a visually impaired man served a legal notice on the government, seeking reply within seven days as to why the man would not be issued an admit card to sit for the BCS examinations.

It has been mentioned in the notice that Shapan Chowkider who is a visually impaired person, obtained LLB and LLM degrees from Dhaka University respectively in 2008 and 2009. He was then enrolled  in Bangladesh Bar Council as an Advocate after passing the written and viva examinations and started practicing as a lawyer.  He applied for the 28th BCS Examination but was not issued the admit card.  He then wrote repeatedly to the Prime Minister to bring the issue to her notice, but failed to get any response from her office.

Recently the Public Service Commission issued a circular for the 30th BCS examinations where they declared that Bangladesh Civil Service (Age, Qualification and Examination for direct recruitment) Rules, 1982 will be followed. This rule has set some criteria for physical fitness which will be an obstruction in getting jobs for physically impaired persons.

The legal notice highlighted that this is inconsistent with the Article 40,27,15,20 of the Constitution of Bangladesh that guaranteed the right to equal opportunity of work.  Moreover, this lacks the conformity with the Section 6(2) of the Disability Welfare Act and The UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disability (CRPD). 

The notice requested and demanded the  government authority to take all necessary measures as guaranteed by the Constitution and other laws of the country to protect the persons with disabilities in public employment including (1) taking necessary steps to create oppoptunities for persons with disabilities to be employed in specific arena; (2) crearting equal employment opportunity; (3) adopting measures for relaxing the age limit for persons with disabilities in the services in public sector and (4) adopting measures for reserving quotas for persons with disabilities in the services in public sector .

The notice has been issued to the Secretaries of Estalishment ministry, Law and Parliamentary affairs Ministry and Social Welfare Ministry, PSC Chairman, Secretary and Examination Controller. Supreme Court Advocate Khondoker Shahriar Shakir issued the legal notice on behalf of the petitioners.

Writ on Unregistered Blood Centres »

February 16, 2010

HC directs Government to explain in 3 months

The High Court issued a rule upon the Government to explain within three months as to why it has not taken any legal step to stop operation of unregistered blood transfusion centres.

The High Court bench of Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Justice ATM Fazle Kabir directed the Government to submit a report within three months on the list of unregistered blood transfusion centres and actions taken against those centres. It also directed the Government to ensure whether the registered blood transfusion centres are being operated following the Safe Blood Transfusion Act 2002 and the Rules of 2008. The Health Secretary and the DG of Directorate General of Health Services, have to reply to the rule and comply with the order.

The High Court bench came up with the rule following a writ petition filed by a victim of unsafe blood transfusion Ainur Rashid and Human Rights and Legal Aid organizations Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST). In the petition they contended that the petition has been filed with a plea to take legal action against the unregistered blood transfusion centres as per the Safe Blood Transfusion Act 2002.

Barrister Sara Hossain assisted by ASK lawyer Advocate Abanti Nurul appeared for the petitioners.

Eviction of Shahidertek Bosti »

February 4, 2010

High Court issued stay order

The High Court issued a stay order for four months on the eviction of Shahidertek Bosti at Agargaon. The court issued the order in response to the writ petition filed by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) and four slum dwellers.

On 14 January, the Senior Assistant Secretary of the Housing and Public Works Ministry issued a notice upon the inhabitants of Shahidertek Bosti to vacate their possession of the bosti land within 10 days. In response to that notice, ASK and the slum dwellers filed a writ petition on 1st February 2010 where Secretary and the Senior Assistant Secretary of the Housing and Public Works Ministry, Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka, Inspector General of Police, Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the O.C of Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station were made respondents.

It is mentioned in the petition that, 2100 inhabitants have been living in the bosti for 25 years and have been enrolled as the voters of the locality and they have cast their votes in the last national election. UNICEF and BRAC run education and health program respectively in that bosti. The petition highlighted that, there is a clear and positive duty cast upon the Government under Article 15 of the Constitution to provide the basic necessities for the people (including food, clothing, shelter, education and health), the right to work and the right to social security, which is read together with the fundamental right – ‘Right to Life’ guaranteed by Article 32 of the Constitution. It is also said in the petition that, the issuance of the notice without any prior rehabilitation is in clear violation of the principles enunciated in the previous judgment of the High Court (19 BLD 1991 page-488)

The High Court bench comprised Justice Momtaz Uddin Ahmed and Justice Naima Haider issued the rule. The petitioners were represented by Barrister Sara Hossain with the assistance of ASK’s lawyer Abanti Nurul. Deputy Attorny General Mostofa Zaman Islam represented the Government in the case.