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2 NEWS

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015

Khokon seeks monitoring power alongside Rajuk n Abu Hayat Mahmud and Kamrul Hasan Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sayeed Khokon has urged the authorities concerned to give the monitoring power over the under construction buildings to the corporation in line with the Rajuk. Khokon made the remarks while visiting the land subside and road collapse scene on

No new roads, but expressways for traffic free cities n Shohel Mamun

Instead of constructing roads, the Road Transport and Highways Division looks forward to implement projects for constructing flyovers, elevated expressways and metro rails across the country. The decision came with a view to protect agricultural lands and avoid hassles that occur while acquiring lands for constructing roads. Flyovers would rather ease traffic congestion both in the capital and surrounding districts, sources at the division told the Dhaka Tribune recently. Road Transport and Bridges minister Obaidul Quader said: “In 2010, when we took the initiative to upgrade the Dhaka-Chittagong road into four lanes, the authorities of a number of mosques, temples, and educational institutes protested. They did not agree to shift. We had to hold several meetings with them and give them both lands and new buildings, however, still they were not happy.” The Prime Minister’s Office had agreed with the policy of not constructing any new roads in near future, said the minister. Under the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP), which will be announced in September this year for greater Dhaka, a number of flyovers and elevated expressways will be constructed. l

‘Reorganising main challenge of BNP’ n Tribune Report

Restoring democracy in the country after reorganising the party is the main challenge of the BNP, said the party’s standing committee member Moudud Ahmed. “As democracy is at stake, the challenge is to reform the party and bring back democracy. To do so we have to do clean politics following the ideology of late president Ziaur Rahman,” Moudud said this after placing wreaths at Ziaur Rahman’s grave to mark his death 34th anniversary yesterday. Earlier BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia along with top leaders also placed wreaths on the party founder’s grave. Wearing black badges, they observed silence for a minute and offered prayers led by the Olama Dal. A blood donation camp was also organised near the graveyard. Khaleda then went to different places including Mohammadpur Town Hall, Azimpur and Lalbagh to distribute foods among the poor. She will again distribute food among the destitute on Sunday and Monday in various places of the capital. l

the north-east side of the Sundarbans Hotel at Karwan Bazar intersection in the capital yesterday afternoon. He claimed that the DSCC’s engineering and urban planning department has already been monitoring the under construction twin tower of National Bank Limited, beside which the collapse took place, in line with Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha. “Generally Rajuk is responsible for the ap-

proval of the design of buildings and monitoring the constructions. But considering the city dwellers’ security, the city corporation will also monitor those in the future,” Khokon continued. According to the DCC Ordinance 1983, the city corporation can demolish vulnerable structures. As the government is yet to form any independent regulatory committee and the Rajuk fails to discharge its duty proper-

ly, they have discussed with the Ministry of Housing and Public Works about implementing the power of Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) and DAP, says Khokon, also son of first DCC mayor Mohammad Hanif told the Dhaka Tribune. According to BNBC 2014, the government shall establish a new authority to enforce the law throughout Bangladesh. l

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Migrants found off Myanmar to be taken to Rakhine Buddhist-majority Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as an indigenous ethnic group and officials routinely refer to them as “Bengalis” from across the border. “They will be taken to Rakhine State near Bangladesh tomorrow or the day after,” Myo Win, a local official from Haigyi Island, which is close to where the navy towed the boat on Saturday, told AFP. “As these people came from Bangladesh, we will take them back to Rakhine State because it’s close (to the border),” he added, referring to the western state. Earlier this month Myanmar’s navy found more than 200 bare-chested men in the hull of a wooden, Thai-registered fishing vessel. Myanmar insisted all but eight of those found on that boat were Bangladeshi nationals and vowed to deport them there.

Persecuted minority

The discovery of the latest vessel looks set to deepen a tug of war between Bangladesh and Myanmar over who is responsible for mi-

grants discovered in the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar has been keen to portray those leaving its shores as Bangladeshi economic migrants and has rejected widespread criticism that the Rohingya’s dire conditions are one of the root causes of the current exodus. Bangladesh has said it will not take back any migrants who trace their origin to Myanmar. Myanmar’s 1.3 million Rohingya are heavily persecuted and are one of the world’s largest stateless populations. They have long faced restrictions on movement, jobs and family size while a surge of violence in 2012 between the community and the Buddhist majority in Rakhine brought their plight to the fore. Tens of thousands have fled via perilous boat journeys organised by people-smugglers to Southeast Asia. Malaysia is a favourite destination. Migrants often travel to Thailand by boat, then overland to northern Malaysia. But a Thai crackdown on the lucrative regional smuggling trade in early May left thou-

sands of desperate migrants stranded on land and sea after gangmasters abandoned them. Myanmar state media reported that the 700-plus recently discovered migrants were originally on board three vessels that had tried to go to Thailand but turned back after the crackdown. They were herded onto a single vessel after the Thai people smuggling team who ran the operation abandoned them. “About 50 people died on the way,” the Myanmar News Agency reported. Another state media publication, the Global New Light of Myanmar, reported Saturday that a Thai man who allegedly owned the first boat with 200 migrants on board had been arrested in Yangon. “He was said to have contacted human trafficking gangs in Bangladesh and trafficked people into Thailand and Malaysia,” the report said. The report did not say what charges the man, who was apprehended Friday morning, would face. l

Rape, rape-murder rising Salma Ali, executive director of BNWLA, said the absence of social and political responsibility and a lack of transparency contribute to the problem. The absence of a victim protection policy and delays in police investigations were a major factor in explaining the trend, she said, adding that police often take too long to file cases giving perpetrators time to go into hiding. “There are a number of relevant laws that we need to apply better. With the law properly being applied and awareness created about the crime, it is possible to combat the trend,” she said. Cases are sometimes dismissed because of the interference and domination of ruling party men, rights activists said. On March 19, two local ruling party men raped a teenage girl near the Awami League office of the capital’s Dholaipar area, according to a complaint lodged at Sutrapur police station. Although police arrested the two ruling party men, the case is likely to be dismissed because the victim has not come forward. The two men were soon released from custody. Rights activists said a climate of impunity and a fear of reprisals discouraged women, already facing social pressures, from fighting for justice. Law enforcers sometimes turn a blind eye to allegations of rape against high profile personalities, activists added. Additional Inspector General of Police Mokhlesur Rahman denied that the police

were negligent when investigating rape cases. He said every police station across the country had been instructed to help rape victims receive proper attention and service. Experts said delayed justice and infrequent convictions embolden perpetrators to be repeat offenders. Professor Mahfuza Khanam, member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), told the Dhaka Tribune that a cycle had now been created in rape cases because the criminals get bail using loopholes in the law and then rape again. “If the law is not used properly and justice is not ensured, this kind of crime will be repeated again and again,” she said. Social attitudes towards women also explain the rise in rape, she said. Professor Zia Rahman, chairman of the criminology department at Dhaka University, said the commodification of women in popular culture was a factor in the increasing incidences of sexual violence. From childhood, boys are exposed to a patriarchal mode of thought, he said, with little scope of learning about respect for women. Institutions which work on sex education also fail to provide proper knowledge and create awareness, resulting in the rise of rape cases, Prof Zia said. Prof Zia claimed the entire criminal justice system had failed rape victims. According to police headquarters statistics, in 2014, some 4,642 rape cases were filed, while 4,538 cases were filed in 2013.

Police recorded 797 cases of rape across the country in the first three months of this year. Data suggested that at least 300 rape cases are filed on an average month, but the real number of incidents is likely double that number. Although police filed 2,921 charge sheets in 2013 and 2,918 in 2014, the trial of any of the cases was yet to be held. Police submitted final reports of 1,437 cases and 1,564 cases, respectively, in 2013 and 2014. Interestingly, the charge sheets were not for rape cases that took place in 2013 or 2014 but for cases filed in previous years. Case backlogs can run for years, causing plaintiffs’ circumstances to change and enthusiasm to go to trial to wane. Police officials said the timely submission of charge sheets was difficult because every year there are cases pending investigation spilling over from the previous year. At the end of 2014, 1,280 rape cases were under investigation and 18,662 cases were under trial in court. There were 980 rape cases under investigation in December 2013 and 17,414 cases in trial. Abdullah Al-Mamun, deputy inspector general (operations) of police headquarters, said: “The investigation of rape cases gets top priority from us. “If any police official is found to be negligent in investigating these cases, we will take action action against them.” l

31 May, 2015  
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