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AI inquires into cases against Hasina, Khaleda PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 January 2008

UNB . Dhaka

The Amnesty International has said it is inquiring into cases against former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, and others to see whether or not due process was being followed.

'Two of our delegation members had talked to their lawyers twice…We will see whether there is a pattern in these cases and also see if this happened in other cases. Then we will write to the government. It depends on inquiry results,' the AI secretary general, Irene Khan, told the news agency.

In a one-to-one interview at Hotel Sheraton on Thursday, Irene Khan spoke about general elections, state of emergency, political dialogue, arrest of Dhaka University teachers, police reforms, human rights cases and an effective national human rights commission.

Asked on kind of confusion about the general elections, she said although there were some doubts among the people, but people want the elections this year and the chief adviser, the army chief and the foreign adviser assured her that it would be held this year.

The AI chief executive said the army chief told her that the army was helping in the registration of voters and would help the government to hold free, fair and neutral elections.

She, however, said a credible election would also depend on political parties — how far they would go for political reforms and in what manner. Political parties are complaining that due process is not being followed in cases. So, the elections will depend also on reaction of the parties and future political situation.

She said to hold the elections properly, the government at the same time would have to ensure institutional reforms of human rights and rule of law.

Asked about the state of emergency, Irene Khan said the state of emergency was a temporary arrangement and soon it was lifted it was better. She suggested lifting of restriction on the media calling it unnecessary.

Replying to a question, she said the chief adviser did not consider that the emergency was a governance mechanism. 'If the government feels it will be able to function without the state of emergency, then it should be lifted soon.'

Irene Khan, who left Dhaka for London Friday morning, said the chief adviser told her that political leaders were being tried under previous laws. No new laws or courts were made to try them. 'If it is so, you can imagine what were our laws and court system in the past, but none raised the question until high profile political leaders are arrested,' she said.

The AI chief said general people had suffered and did not get justice so long. She said if these politicians came to power they must scrap these repressive laws and stop these practices to ensure justice to every citizen.

About the release of four arrested teachers of Dhaka University, Irene Khan said it was not a correct step to arrest the teachers who did not make offence by bringing out silent procession. 'They exercised their right to expression and they are prisoners of conscience.'

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