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Old August 27, 2003, 11:31 PM
Ockey Ockey is offline
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Join Date: June 20, 2002
Posts: 241
Default 14 Years For Carrying Illigal Weapons?

Woman ansar, her husband get 14 years’ RI


Aug 21: A speedy trial tribunal here today sentenced a woman ansar and her husband to 14 years rigorous imprisonment for possession of unauthorised arms and ammunition.

The convicts are Farida Yasmin and her husband Abdul Khaleq Talukder. Talukder was tried in absentia.

According to prosecution case, on August 4, 2002, Patuakhali thana police raided the residence of Farida at her government quarters and recovered a pipe-gun along with a live cartridge.

Police prosecuted Farida and her husband on completion of investigation.

Source: August 22 Issue of The Independent

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A few months back I read a similar story about a man, who, as I recall, was an auto rickshaw driver being sentenced to 14 years to prison for possetion of an illegal pistol. Something just doesn't seem right here, not because of the length of the prison term but because I feel that the "speedy tribunal" is trying to set an example rather than providing justice by apply the rules of the law. Who better to set an example of than someone who doesn't have any political backing or the money to afford a good lawyer.

Correct me if I am wrong but isn't the prison term harsher than the sentences handed down by coutries with the strictest gun conrol laws? The length of the term seems to suggest that carrying unathorized weapons is a capital crime. If this was the case, wouldn't we see less use of illegal weapons and hence less violent crime? Don't tell me that the everyday murder is commited by authorized, licenses, leagal weapons! Has Bangladesh always had this prison term for possession of unauthorised arms and ammunition?

Right after the elections, when the PM had ordered the special drive to nap wanted criminals, which I believe was dubbed, operation "Clean Heart", it was alleged that govt. had issued over 200,000 liceses to private individuals to carry fire arms. (I am just recalling what I read...my memory tends to fail me now and then so please correct me if I wrong.) In a country where the difference between not having and not having a license to carry a fire arm means 14 years of hard labor, the prison term does seems unjust.

Also take note of the following article:

50,000 arms in hands of Ctg underworld? Jan 18, '03 issue of The Independent

In a soceity where violent crimes such as murder, rape, and armed robbery are rampant examplary punishment, if 14 year prison term is indeed that, is doing little to improve law and order. As far as I am concerned, all it does is make a mockery of the justice system in Bangladesh or what is left of it.

On another note, if anyone has any thoughts on the "speedy tribunals" please share your opnions.

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Old August 31, 2003, 12:17 AM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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Join Date: September 22, 2002
Location: Chicago
Posts: 3,394

One of the most blatantly outrageous policies used by all Bangladeshi governments to date to legitimize human rights abuse has been to "indemnify" their own actions.

The military tribunals which were illegally set up to try the cases during Operation Clean Heart were later indemnified by Parliament, as were the individual actions of abuse and mistreatment by the Army during that time. What that means, in short, is that Army personnel could not be prosecuted for any rights abuses during the operation. I am no lawyer, but it may also mean that special tribunal verdicts could not be overturned by civil courts. That is even more shocking as there is no right to appeal to these special tribunals. I do know this is being challenged in the legal system right now, but am not sure as to the progress or even the jurisdiction of the civil courts over the military tribunals.

While the "speedy trial tribunal" is not likely a military tribunal, one wonders what is the appeal process (of course as you point out, the accused may not be able to afford a long appeal process). The use of extra-judicial tribunals only undermines the judicial system and inevitably results in gross violations of rights. Unfortunately it has become common practise in many countries, most recently in the US (on a limited scale) under the guise of the Patriot Act.

I don't know if the 14 year sentence has always been there, probably not, but it is an attempt to get tough on crime. That is needed but as you also point out, sentencing 2 people hardly does anything to stem the tide when thousands have illegal weapons.

On a personal note, a couple of years back I found out how difficult it is to renew a gun license and can see how easy it would be for average citizens who own a firearm to end up on the wrong side of the law.
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