Saturday, March 21, 2009

Criminal justice reform for a better Bangladesh


THE POLICE are alleged of bribe, the army is incorporate with mass corruption, the BDR mutinied and drive brutal killings, the judges are influenced by the political pressure and favor or diverted by some means are the common scenario of Bangladesh.

While the innocent are languishing inside jail for the lack of legal aid, the criminals are enjoying freedom by influencing the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system today is a big business and affects large numbers of people. The criminal justice system is linked with key sociopolitical objectives, such as the maintenance of law and order and preservation of the peace, the security of the individual and the protection of property; and, increasingly, the protection of human rights and individual freedoms.

The Bangladesh penal code is drafted in accordance with colonial British law, which contains many conflicting and competing policies when applied to present-day situations. The paradox of that law is that it insists on the application of force and the violent deprivation of liberty, consistent with the British colonial perspective, in the name of limiting force and fraud and defending liberty.

The time for the reformation of the criminal justice system of Bangladesh has come. The question is how to achieve a proper balance between the provision of the criminal law and the preservation of liberty and freedom of the individual.

The police are an essential component of the criminal justice system in Bangladesh. The police play a very important and vital role for the implementation of fair trials. The Bangladeshi government is trying to fix the agenda for democratic policing by transforming the police force into a police service with the help of UNDP.

The prison system has become a vital component of suppression and brutality, even though prison should be a place for rehabilitation and correction. Simply put, justice is detained behind the walls of these Bangladeshi prisons. Prison reform is a necessary objective to ensure people's rights and "humanize" Bangladesh. Prisoners’ rights have become an important item on the agenda for prison reforms. Lawmakers should introduce a bill to humanize the prison system in Bangladesh, where the main philosophy of prison systems is based on colonial law.

Being so close to the delivery of justice, the criminal justice system of Bangladesh needs wide reforms that demand a revival in the criminal justice system. All past and present governments kept busy fulfilling their own agenda. George Gillespie said, “Reformation ends not in contemplation, but in action.” The question remains, who will end the empty talk for reform of the criminal justice system and ensure the people’s access to justice?

William Gomes is an independent human rights activist, a Catholic ecumenical activist, and a political analyst. He could be reached at: