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Can Bangladesh ever have Chilcot-type thoroughinquiry report?

jhvIn 2003, UK with USA and 46 other countries went to the warin Iraq on the grounds of Saddam Hossain had mass destruction weapons which could be activated within 45 minutes. Most of the fellow MPs along with people at large were opposing the UK’s invasion of Iraq, but Mr. Tony Blair being the then prime minister of the UK did not care about public sentiments and fellow MPs. He decided to go to the war in which Saddam was toppled and 179 UK military personnel were killed and thousands were injured. 150 thousand innocent Iraqi civilians were killed in this invasion.

Finally, it was transpired that in fact no mass destruction weapons (chemical or biological) were found proving Blair’s excuse of going to the war in Iraq was not true. Then the question of legality of UK’s decision to go to war was raised and 7 years before Chilcot inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot was formed. On 6the of July 2016 this inquiry was published which clearly says that the legality of Iraq was far from satisfactory. This report says that Mr. Blair’sdecision was based on flawed intelligence andassessments as to the Saddam’s threat to the West. This report further says that no plan was made prior to go to war for post-invasions Iraq. As a result Iraq has turned as a failed state. The rise of IS, Al kaida and sectarian wars are the consequence of Iraq invasion.

This report clearly says that war was not last resort and no peaceful actions were applied to disarm the Saddam Hossain. This report demonstrates that Blair’s decision to go to the war was based on his determination to be with Mr Bush administration at any cost, not based on facts were available before him. Family members of killed military personals are now exploring the possibility of prosecuting Mr Blair which may lead his imprisonment eventually.

BritishCivil Servicesystem is very strong. No one is above law. Everyone is accountable for their actions. Chilcot inquiry clearly shows that an inquiry/ investigation can be influence-free. Investigation in the UK can disclose the truth, no matters it goes against whose. The purpose of forming this inquiry was to see whether Mr. Blair went to the war complying with rules and regulations when he was in office holding the highest post of the country.

The report goes on saying that UK’s going to war undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council: The UN’s Charter puts responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in the Security Council. Blair was claiming to act on behalf of the international community “to uphold the authority of the Security Council”. But he knew it did not have a majority supporting his actions.

In our country, Bangladesh, the persons in Tony Blair’s positions will ever be hold to account   for their actions? Can any inquiry be formed to investigate their actions?Even if inquiry team is formed, can such team give their report without being influenced? If answer is NO. May I ask you why not?. Don’t our politicians and authorities concerned love our country?. If they don’t love our country, don’t they love their children, grandchildren and relatives they are leaving behind?. For the sake of their own children and grandchildren they should do everything possible to make the country a just, tolerant and safe place to live in. Will we/ our generations never become lecture givers? Will we always remain lecture takers/ receivers from West?Can we not be exporter/ seller/ supplier of talents to the world? Do we always have to supply labours for the world?

We should have such a system where everyone would be accountable for their actions. Every citizen should be treated equally in accordance with the constitution of Bangladesh, article 27. The notion of justice for all has to be ensured. No killings should go uninquired. Punishment/actions for offence should be determined looking atthe offencecommitted, not looking at the face of offender, cross-fire has to be stopped, administrative decisionmaking process from union parishad to ministeriallevel have to be clear and transparent towards establishing a just country.

On numerous occasions we have seen inquiry reports on a serious issue did not get light. when some inquiry reports got light, but most of them were not published publicly. Our inquiry team can not prepare their report without being influenced. Individual/ political interests cannot outweigh national interest and as such inquiry report can not contain truth fully. Inquiry team is not formed by independent/neutral people and inquiry team lacks judging ability as a result. Obviously we have Mr Chilcot-type people who should be used in forming inquiry body to have a thorough and transparent report on issues like Philkhana Carnage, Central bank hackings, causing capital market collapsed etc.

Criminal justice system in Bangladesh is not being used for elites when they commit offence. Such offendersgetaway by using police stations. Police are not taking actions/ charge sheet against such offenders. In lower courts (judges courts- criminal sections) are packed with cases of lower class people. All offenders should be punished irrespective of their social status. Mass people should be made aware that they can register the complaint to the court directly. The normal tendency of the mass people is that they go to the police station to register complaint andelites escape their liability by compromising with the police.

Laws should be applied equally. Presumption of innocence, right to free and open trial, judicial independence, separation line between executive-legislature-judiciary, special attention to vulnerable group of people like woman, children, elderly, minority and disabled have to be ensured. Freedom of speech, religion, assembly and to enjoy free and fair elections have to guaranteed If our vision is to take the country forward and leave the legacy behind.

Written by Barrister Jahirul Islam