On 27th August 2023, some 160 people, many of whom are Nobel laureates, posted an open letter for Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, asking the latter to stop the ongoing indictment against Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace.
It leaves no doubt whatsoever that Hillary Clinton is the one who has been the ‘Master of the Rings’ in gestating this unpalatable episode.
The aforementioned letter has been widely viewed as being tantamount to poking an alien’s nose in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country, which is abhorred by the principles of public international law.
This is also wholly repugnant to the primordial stipulation in the UN Charter, which preordains the concept of ‘Sovereign Equality’ of member states.
It does, therefore, go without saying that those people who minded to transmit the letter to the head of the government of an independent member of the United Nations Organisation, have inexcusably, been in breach of the dictates of the UN Charter as much as they have been in derogation of the coveted principles of the laws of the nations.
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that people of such dignified standing could have acted in a manner that violates the sovereignty of a nation. Surely, neither the authorities, nor the people of the United States of America, would keep quiet if people from abroad were to ask the US President to put to a halt the trial of former President Donald Trump.
Through the said letter, the authors of the same of have virtually asked Bangladesh’s Prime Minister to flout the highly adored and universally revered idea of the separation of power, the independence of the judiciary, and the rule of law.
Having been fortunate enough to receive education in law from of one of the top educational institutions of the world, Ms. Clinton needs no instruction to be led to know that in her own country, the celebrated Chief Justice Marshall, expressed without any qualm whatsoever that adjudication on legal matters remain vested within the exclusive and unfettered jurisdiction of the courts and that the executive organ of the state has no role to play in judicial matters.
Chief Justice Marshall’s proclamation antagonised President Jefferson, yet the principle enunciated by the former has survived, not only in the United States, but found its safe passage to other democratic countries all around the globe. The concept of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary, has been dearly fallowed by those countries which obtained independence from the colonial rule post world war-II.
Bangladesh is no exception to adhere to this concept. As such, the executive authority in Bangladesh is endowed with no power to interfere with the judicial process.
Like other democratic countries, head of the government in Bangladesh is equipped with no power to stop a criminal proceeding. The prerogative of mercy is available to reprieve convicted people only, not to people facing trial.
It is not open to Bangladesh legislature to enact any law to stop court proceedings because such a legislation shall be declared void by the higher judiciary in Bangladesh as being repugnant to constitutional mandate. Like in the USA, provision for judicial review of legislation exists in Bangladesh equally well.
So far as Dr. Yunus’s case is concerned, even an attempt by the Prime Minister to bring the proceedings to an end, may plunge her to a situation whence she may face proceeding for contempt of court.
It is to be kept in mind that the Apex Court of the Republic unequivocally directed, after scrutinising all relevant papers, containing the indictment and evidences, that proceeding in the Labour Court must continue unabated. This must also not be kept out of introspection that the labour laws in Bangladesh have been enacted in strict compliance with what the International Labour Organisation (ILO) requires.
The moot question is how on earth the former Secretary of State of the United States, a legally qualified attorney, could have engendered the idea of asking head of a foreign government to stop criminal proceeding against her friend, Dr. Yunus.
That is absolutely horrendous, least said. It is the same thing as some top people in Bangladesh to ask President of the United States to put a halt on the proceeding that has been in progress in US Courts.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama should have checked Dr. Muhammad Yunus’ file.
It is abundantly clear that none of those 160 people, inclusive of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama themselves, felt bothered to go through the file containing details of the allegations and evidences against Dr. Yunus.
They do not seem to be aware of the fact that the indictment came into being not at the instance of the government, but on the petition of some of Dr. Yunus’s employees who alleged by adducing prima facie evidence that he (Dr. Yunus) had nicked their money.
One should also bear in mind that a court in Bangladesh would not proceed to issue process unless the complainant succeeds to establish a prima facie case. In the instant one Dr. Yunus even went to the highest court of the land, which found no fallibility or irregularity in the labour court’s proceeding.
If the signatories had entertained the view that people standing on higher level of a ladder cannot be deemed to have committed crimes, they may be advised to remember that a former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss kahn, had to stand trial in the US Courts for alleged raping. In fact he was dragged from a Paris bound aircraft by New York Police as he tried to flee.
Trials of the former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, are on the waiting list of those to be tried.
The trial of Donald Trump is, of course, the most glaring example. Nobody is saying anything about these proceedings.
There is no dearth of examples in this respect. Some Nobel laureates have also been or in the process of facing prosecution. The most important name in this respect is that of Aung San Suu kyi, who is being investigated by the International Criminal Court for alleged commission of genocide.
There are allegations of genocide against the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi, another nobel laureate for peace. The public demand is that he should be put to the I.C.C. for genocide trial. One of the most fundamental dictates of the rule of law is that all are equal in the eye of law. As Dr. Fuller pronounced centuries ago, ‘You may be ever so high, but the law is above you.’ Why should this immortal doctrine not apply for Dr. Yunus?
Dr. Yunus did not receive a Nobel prize for his subject, economics: he received it for peace, although there is no evidence to depict that he made any contribution to establish peace anywhere on the earth.
It is a deeply trenched truth that Nobel prizes for peace have been accorded to many people who have had caused mortification of peace. There are people like Henry Kissinger at whose instance millions of people were killed in Chile, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Three Israeli Prime Ministers such as Yahud Begin, Simon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin are amongst those whose hands are tainted with the bloods of Palestinian people.
It is expected that the signatories to that letter would come to their sense, reckoning that they have violated the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign nation, ignored the concept of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary in asking the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to stop proceedings against Dr. Yunus, and then withdraw the letter.