With the collaboration of Oxfam and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) under “Creating Spaces to take action on violence against women and girls” program, Amrai Pari Paribarik Nirjaton Jot organized a round Table discussion on implementation of the directive on the disposal rape and sexual assault cases of women and children within 180 days. The chief guest of this meeting was Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Former director of National Human Rights Commission. Md Golam Kibria , Senior district judicial magistrate and Director at Judicial Administration Training Institute, Sohel Rana, Assistant Inspector General, Media and Public Relation department of Bangladesh Police, Mahfuza Mala, Program Coordinator, Gender Justice and Social Inclusion of Oxfam were attending as special guests in this discussion.Farhana Afroze, Assistant Attorney General, Bangladesh Supreme Court and Md Akhteruzzaman, Senior Assistant Judge and Assistant Director of National Legal Aid Services Organization were the panel speakers.
On December 2016 High Court ruled that rape cases must be concluded within a maximum of 180 days, but it is still a pipe dream. ‘We Can Lawyers’ Alliance’ shared their field experience in this discussion. Two types of situations came up in this discussion. It has been observed that the rape case of a 5-year-old child in Dinajpur has been stuck for four years. On the other hand, the rape case of a child in Bagerhat has been settled in just 7 days. These two example show that cases of violence against women and children can be disposed within 180 days.
Mentioning the example of Bagerhat, Md Akhteruzzaman said that, “It has been possible to expedite the proceedings of this case as there was coordination of every sector involved in this case.”
"The medical report gets delayed because the one-stop crisis center is only available in certain areas," said Farhana Afroze.
Dr. Mizanur Rahman called upon the government to take responsibility for the mental, financial and social rehabilitation of the abused women and children in addition to bringing the perpetrators to justice in his speech.
As speakers spoke about lawyers and witnesses not showing up on court dates, they pointed out that the 2019 HC ruling also stated that if important witnesses such as magistrates, police, doctors and other experts do not appear before courts to provide their testimonies, departmental action may be taken against them, and if need be, their salaries can be stalled.
Md Golam Kibria noted that it is not possible to expedite the process without more courts and more judges. "Each tribunal has between 1,500-2,000 such cases at any given time. A judge can only hear about a hundred cases a month. Make it such that a judge has only 500 cases or less," he said. So He gave importance on increasing number of tribunals.
Date: 28 November, 2020
Venue: Azimur Rahman Conference Hall, The daily Star