Anti-terrorism Workshop held in Dhaka

Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali has said, “It is our Government’s firm conviction that the development and empowerment that we wish to secure for our people can only be achieved in an environment of peace, security and stability. This has been reaffirmed as an integral theme of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “People’s Empowerment and Development” Peace Model in which she places social inclusion, humane development and countering terrorism as mutually reinforcing pre-conditions for sustainable peace”.

The Minister said this at the inaugural session of a two day national workshop on enabling legal frameworks for witness and victim protection to curb terrorism being held at the CIRDAP International Conference Centre in Dhaka today.

The workshop is being jointly organised by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, in partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Foreign Minister hoped that the present Workshop would identify ways to address the current gaps in the national legislative framework for witness and victim protection. He observed that despite significant strides in Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism regime, the issue of victim and witness protection still remained a grey and incomplete area in the national legislation.

The Foreign Minister stressed, “The support and protection we envisage for victims and witnesses need to be anchored within the principles of human rights and rule of law.”

Minister Ali recalled the pains and sufferings of the victims of the grenade attacks of 21 August 2004 and of the violence and arson attacks committed by the Opposition of the day last year during the lead up to the 10th Parliamentary elections.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Md. Mozammel Haque Khan, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs shed light on some of the existing yet scattered provisions in Bangladesh’s national legislation concerning victim and witness protection.

Echoing his points, Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Secretary, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division underscored the need for a comprehensive policy approach to develop an effective and well-coordinated legal framework for the purpose.

The US Ambassador to Bangladesh Mr. Dan W. Mozena expressed satisfaction at the robust partnership between Bangladesh and the US against the scourge of terrorism. He recalled the US’ sustained investment in enhancing the capacities of Bangladesh’s law enforcement, judicial and prosecutorial officials to strengthen the national counter-terrorism regime.

Ambassador Mozena said that the memories of 1971 would remind the people of Bangladesh that freedom was not free and that they must work together to safeguard that freedom from the forces that wished to undermine it.

He added that no nation could be complacent about their counter-terrorism measures no matter how much progress they had made. He pointed out that the elements that had carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US or the 2004 grenade attacks in Bangladesh continued to be active to carry out their evil designs.

The US Government is financing the workshop under a regional programme with UNODC. Experts from UNODC Offices in Vienna and New Delhi and national experts from the US, Spain, Malaysia and Indonesia have joined the Workshop as resource persons.

Around 30 participants from the Ministries of Home Affairs, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Legal and judicial officials, Bangladesh Police, BGB, Coast Guard, Financial Intelligence Unit, Intelligence agencies and National Human Rights Commission are attending the workshop.

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