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Decade-long pending rape cases frustrate justice seekers in Rangpur

  • Published at 03:56 pm November 19th, 2020
rangpur court
Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal in Rangpur Dhaka Tribune

Poor investigation by police, too many adjournments at courts, witness no show, poor performance by prosecutors are among leading causes for case backlogs

About 1,000 rape cases remain pending for over 12-17 years with three woman and children repression prevention tribunals in Rangpur, causing unbearable sufferings to justice seekers.

Poor investigation by police, too many adjournments at courts, witness no show, poor performance by prosecutors are among leading causes for case backlogs, says a legal expert.

Some other causes behind the piles of pending cases include shortage of judges, lack of coordination among different government departments and a section of lawyers’ unwillingness to settle the case within a short time.

Contacted, Adv Khandakar Rafiq Hasnain, special public prosecutor of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal 1, admitted to having around 300 pending rape cases in his court, most of which have been pending disposal for 12 to 15 years.

This state prosecutor identified four main reasons behind the huge backlog of rape cases:

The first reason is the inadequate number of judges against the high number of cases. As a result, each case doesn’t get more than 2-3 hearing dates a year. Things continue like this and the number of cases pending keep rising as the years pass.

The second reason is the typical reluctance from the plaintiffs and witnesses of the cases to come to the court in time to testify.

Thirdly, the police failed to produce the witnesses in the case. It is the duty of the police to produce witnesses in court. However, even after the court issues summons or warrants in the name of the witnesses, the police officers fail to produce them. 

Fourthly, the unnecessary delays by the defendant lawyer to jeopardize the proceedings of the case. 

Asked about the legal obligation to dispose rape cases within 180 days, the lawyer said, according to the law the trial proceedings of a rape case should be completed within 180 days, but there aren’t any visible legal ramifications when the law isn’t followed accordingly. As a result, many are taking advantage of this loophole.

Speaking on the issue, Rangpur Bar Association President Adv Abdul Malek, said: “The government has taken an initiative to settle pending rape cases within 180 days. So from now on, rape cases will not fall into limbo.”

However, he could not give an idea of how long it would take to complete the trial of the cases that were already pending for over a decade.