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Bangladesh comes last on civil justice

Country ranks poorly in nine categories
Bangladesh comes last on civil justice
Report says Bangladesh justice system is unequal and highly politicized
Published: November 29, 2012 09:14 AM GMT
Updated: November 28, 2012 10:15 PM GMT

Bangladesh was ranked the lowest out of 97 countries on a scale measuring civil justice, in a report published yesterday by global organization World Justice Project.

The Rule of Law Index 2012 showed the country performing poorly in nine areas that influence the establishment of rule of law, including the justice system.

Bangladesh ranked 87th in limited government powers, 89th in absence of corruption, 72nd in order and security, 87th in fundamental rights, 89th in open government, 90th in regulatory enforcement, 97th in civil justice and 83rd in criminal justice.

Father Albert Rozario, a lawyer and secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace, says the report reflects reality.

“When in power, political parties appoint loyalist judges and officials, so they usually don’t deliver judgments against ruling party activists even if they are guilty,” said Fr Rozario. He said 21 death row inmates have received presidential clemency since the ruling party took power in 2009.

The priest also said rule of law is absent in Bangladesh because what law there is often favors the rich and powerful.

“Top lawyers don’t take the side of the poor and oppressed, because they can’t pay them well. Corruption is also widespread,” Fr Rozario said.

Nasiruddin Allan, chief executive of Dhaka-based rights body Odhikar, agreed.

“The judiciary is highly politicized, and the law doesn’t serve poor and rich equally. If you visit any jail in the country you will find 98 percent of inmates are poor, mostly implicated on false charges. Rich people get out of jail easily on bail,” he said.

Shahidul Haque, secretary of the Law and Justice Ministry, declined to comment on the “politicizing of the judiciary,” but denied that inequality before the law is a problem.

The report is a product of five years of intensive development, testing, and vetting. It is based on interviews with 97,000 members of the public and more than 2,500 experts in 97 countries and jurisdictions. 

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