HRW asks B'desh not to restrict powers of anti-corruption body

Noting that corruption is a grave problem in Bangladesh, corroding faith in government and undermining the rule of law and efforts at reforming institutions like the police and army, Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams said: "Creating laws that shield government officials from prosecution would send a clear message that the government is not serious in fighting corruption."

A cabinet committee established in 2009 to review Bangladesh's anti-corruption legislation has proposed amendments requiring the Anti-Corruption Commission, which was established by law in 2004, to obtain permission from the government before taking legal action against government officials and members of parliament suspected of corruption.

The HRW said government has recommended to the courts and the Anti-Corruption Commission that they withdraw hundreds of corruption cases initiated against Awami League supporters on the grounds that they were "politically motivated" cases filed under previous governments.

However, most similar cases against the political opposition have not been recommended for withdrawal, it noted.
"In Bangladesh, those in positions of power have regularly used the law to undermine their political rivals," Adams said.

"While there has been a need to deal with this problem, it is important for the ruling party to ensure that it does not create the impression that it is favoring its members. It should leave it to the judiciary to weed out unfair charges," he added. 

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