Archive for the ‘Independence of Judiciary’ Category


Of Generals and Judges

In Bangladesh,Independence of Judiciary,Law,Militarisation,Pakistan,Politics on 23 March 2008 by Incidental Blogger Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,


“The High Court giveth and the Appellate Division taketh away.”


This week, we observed how another decision of the High Court got over turned by the Appellate Division. We hear, a number of “rogue” benches in the High Court Division of the Supreme Court have become a constant source of embarrassment for the present Caretaker Government. In several recent high profile cases we have noted this cat and mouse game of control versus independence of the higher judiciary. This is how, critics say, the highest court of the country consistently upheld the Caretaker Government’s wishes in the end, in case after case. They quip – ‘the High Court (serving the Law) giveth and the Appellate Division (serving the Caretaker) taketh away.’ The interesting factor common to all these over turned decisions is that in each of them, “the Government always wins in the end.” Statistically, that is very odd.
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Hospitality, Dhaka Style: Akhavan, Sloan and Another

In Democracy,Fair Trial,Human Rights,Independence of Judiciary,Politics on 4 March 2008 by Incidental Blogger Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

The injustices in the world are so overwhelming, so enraging, that it is unacceptable, indeed immoral, not to fight for justice with every bit of one’s strength.”

Today I have decided to write about the person who made the above statement. His name is Payam Akhavan, the renowned human rights lawyer representing Sheikh Hasina (former Prime Minister of Bangladesh). Last month, he was in Bangladesh on a five-day visit which attracted considerable media attention and controversy. His visit was followed by frantic PR campaigns orchestrated by the Caretaker Government and its civil society allies. Google the internet and you will find it replete with points, protests and spins involving this highly publicised visit. Incidentally, I am familiar with some of Dr Akhavan’s seminal works in the field of Genocide Prosecution and Prevention. I also had the opportunity to meet him in person. Today I would like to share some of my impressions about him and his work (including his involvement in Sheikh Hasina’s trial) which I hope would shed some helpful light on the controversies.

Because of the length of the post, I have divided it as follows:

· Profile of a human rights lawyer: the first impression

· Three embarrassing facts;

· Rebuttal of the spins

· Some concluding observations

Profile of a Human Rights Lawyer: the First Meeting:

Dr Akhavan’s track record as an internationally renowned human rights lawyer is now more than well established. Anyone with genuine interest in ‘war crime trials’ should be familiar with his works. It was sometime in the middle of last year when I bumped into one of Dr Akhavan’s human rights colleagues in a social event who informed me about his possible visit to Bangladesh. The whole thing slowly slipped my mind, until late January this year when I saw him on TV making his very first press appearance in Dhaka. It caught my attention when he made that famous “irony not lost” comment before the journalists, referring to (ab)use of Parliament compound as makeshift prisons for two former Prime Ministers of the country, both democratically elected. Almost coincidentally, a friend drew my attention to a speaker event by Payam Akhavan in Trinity College (Oxford University) co-sponsored by three other Oxford based entities, which I resolved to follow closely. The talk was scheduled immediately after his return from Dhaka, on a Saturday evening (2 February 2008), and my friend was kind enough to give me a blow by blow account of the event later.

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