For the last two weeks I have been part of a team assessing the training needs of the Special Tribunals in Dhaka adjudicating terrorism, money laundering, corruption and cybercrime matters.
With a population of 160 million, Bangladesh has the eighth largest population in the world. Dhaka alone has a population of 9 million – the second most densely populated city in the world – making moving around in traffic difficult at best!
Bangladesh suffered a shocking terrorist attack in 2016 at the Holey Artisan Bakery, popular with ex-pats, where twenty nine people were killed. The trial of six accused commenced in December 2018 with a verdict expected later this year.
As trials are not continuous, a Judge may hear witnesses from a variety of cases on any given day. This creates inevitable delays as locating and informing witnesses of court dates, getting them to court many miles away or through the tortuous traffic, are obvious challenges.
As trials are prolonged, an accused can be remanded in custody for longer than any maximum sentence, with anecdotal evidence of a case taking 18 years to conclude.
The delays are compounded by many of the laws and procedures being outdated – examples being the Evidence Act 1872 and Criminal Procedure Act 1898.
Despite these challenges, the commitment and desire for change was matched by amazing hospitality provided at our meetings in the Supreme Court, Special Terrorism Tribunal, Judicial Administration Training Institute, Anti-Corruption Commission and by Public Prosecutors – with gracious hand holding, tea, fruit and biriyani the norm. ধন্যবাদ
The desire for change is very apparent – I will be interested to see how our recommendations assist the Special Tribunals – much like the ‘legal eagle‘ keeping an eye on proceedings from her nest outside the Cyber Court!