“Emergency laws and their implication for freedom of association”

“Emergency laws and their implication for freedom of association”


A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of government, alert citizens to change their normal behaviors, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans.[1] It can also be used as a rationale for suspending civil liberties. Such declarations usually come during a time of natural disaster, during periods of civil disorder, or following a declaration of war. In some countries, the state of emergency and its effects on civil liberties and governmental procedure are regulated by the constitution or a law that limits the powers that may be invoked or rights that may be suspended during an emergency. Now we have to think about the emergency law and that impact of freedom association. Freedom association means Freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. So the emergency law and freedom association are totally different from their view and the emergency law seriously affect on the freedom association.

Emergency law in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January 2007, led by an interim government that was not elected but which claims to be reform-minded.

On January 11th 2007 the President declared a State of Emergency and on the12th

January issued an Emergency Power Ordinance (EPO) “to provide for special measures for ensuring the security, public safety and interest and for protecting the economic life of Bangladesh and for securing the maintenance of public order and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community.”[2] There are some problem arise for emergency law in Bangladesh.

The main problems are:-

1) Fast track judicial processes for political objectives and discriminatory outcomes.

Interference in Judiciary to design certain political goals, worse even, for differential and discriminatory outcomes, has become a serious human rights threat to the people of Bangladesh and people’s perception of such apparent events have further increased political tension and instability.

2) Blanket arrests: new tools for political repression

Mass arrests of about 25,500 people in two weeks, many of whom are

Principally grassroots political leaders and activists, during the special drives of the joint forces launched on May 30, indicates the inability of the government to manage political dissent. Explanation from the government for such drives has so far failed to show evidence that it has been conducted purely to improve the law and order situation and not repression of the political opponents.

3) Freedom of expression and Press

Freedom of expression for press and media is very important for an independent country but in the emergency situation the media cannot doing their work with freedom and its affect on the country’s freedom.

Why country engages is emergency law?

The main reasons are:

1)      Natural disaster Natural disaster can engage in emergency law for country because the natural disaster can destroy the normal condition of country and people of the country do not maintain the law so the government uses emergency law for control the people of the country.

2)      During periods of civil disorder– During periods of civil disorder the country can engages is emergency law.

3)      Declaration of war The country can also engages for following a declaration of war.

The name of some countries those were engages by emergency law

1) Pakistan  & Emergency Law

Nominally, Pakistan is a federal democratic republic (declared in 1956) under a semi-presidential system and bicameral legislature consisting of a 100 member Senate and larger lower house National Assembly. The President is considered head of state and armed forces commander and chief (in a civilian capacity) and is elected by the Electoral College of Pakistan comprised of both houses of Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies[3]. The Prime Minister is Pakistan’s head of government, is elected by the National Assembly, and is usually the largest party’s leader. This is how government is supposed to work in Pakistan, but things are never that simple there. In its entire 60 year history, democracy has been a sham under various elected and military regimes. Musharraf is just the latest military one after he ousted elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in an October, 1999 coup. At the time, few people were surprised as tensions between elements of Pakistan’s ruling classes had been building for months. Sharif had grown increasingly unpopular and had Musharraf not deposed him other opposition forces might have done it.

2) Thailand‘s & emergency law

When Thailand engages by emergency situation then the government makes some restriction that was “The state of emergency allows the government to detain people without charge for 30 days, bans public gatherings of more than five people, and gives the prime minister power to overrule other government agencies. Under the law, hundreds of protesters have been arrested, though it is unclear exactly how many. The government has also used the measure to shut down antigovernment television stations, websites, and radio stations.’[4]

3) Bangladesh & emergency law

On 11 January 2007, Bangladesh’s President Iazuddin Ahmed proclaimed a state of emergency, and on the following day a group of bureaucrats and retired military generals took power in Bangladesh. This situation continues at the time of writing. The alleged justification for this takeover was the violence and instability plaguing the country due to clashes between the previous ruling party and its opposition. From October 2006 to January 2007 there were numerous deaths due to the violence, while transportation and other strikes rendered the entire country immobile.[5]

Emergency law and their impact of freedom of association

We are human we have right to do something with freedom. The Freedom association means freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. In the emergency situation of country there are some impacts on the freedom of association. The main impacts are –

People lost their human right

“Every citizen shall have the right to assemble and to participate in public meetings and processions peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of public order health.”[6]But the people lost their human rights for emergency law so we can say that human right is our right so the emergency situation is not good for any country in the world. Freedom of media is also part of human rights but in the emergency situation of the country media lost their freedom example In Bangladesh from October 2006 to January 2007 the media of Bangladesh cannot done their work with freedom.

Affect on the society

“A society or a human society is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations such as social status, roles and social networks[7]we know that society is big part of our life but the emergency position of country destroy the society and freedom of society. When emergency situation affect on the society than people cannot do their normal human right like they do not comment about government, they cannot talk about their country, they cannot make a meeting for their problem and people suffer by police. So I think the emergency situation is not only a problem for a country it is also a problem for society.

Affect on the economic development

Economics development is very important for a country and every country have economics that makes develop for the country. When emergency situation affect on the country than emergency law also affect on the economics of that country. We know that most of the on Bangladesh comes from foreign country but the emergency law that reduce the foreign law and its affect on the economics development of the country. On the other hand foreign investor cannot make the investment when the country have emergency situation. We know that foreign investment is very important for economic development.

Affect on the social organization

“Social organization of a group includes how people interact, the kinship systems they use, marriage residency patterns, how they divide up the various tasks that need to be completed, which has access to specific goods and knowledge, what ranking strategy is being used”[8]So, social organization is very important part of our life but the emergency position of the country lost the freedom of social organization.

Necessities of emergency

Necessity of emergency is a very controversial matter, for emergency may be right or wrong. It is true that providing the provision of emergency is democratic, but its abuse is an undemocratic one. Emergency means one kind of unexpected occurrence when immediate action becomes necessary, because the security of a state is more important than the liberty of any individual. As lord Atkinson said in R.V Halliday case-

“However precious the personal liberty of the subject be there is                            something for which it may be, to some extent, sacrificed by legal enactment, on account of national success in the war, or escape from national plunder or enslavement”[9]

There are many examples in favor of keeping the provision for emergency. IF we look the emergency situation in Bangladesh then we look that internal disturbance and collision between the four parties Alliance and the fourteen parties Alliance, so there was no alternative to declaring emergency. The 2nd emergency was declared just to face an unexpected situation that occurred following President Ziaur Rahman,s death. But the 1st emergency declared by Shekh Mujibur Rahman and last two by Ershad unexpected and was declared only to apprise the opposition. “In India emergency was declared on 6th December 1971 due to war”[10]. Almost all regional and international instruments of human right make provisions for suspension of rights in case of emergency. There are indirect emergency laws prevalent in Malaysia, and our neighboring countries declared economics emergency at that time. So there are many positives sides of emergency, but it depends how we use it. But suspension of some fundamental rights for a longtime is not good.

Emergency & our Constitution and Their Consequences

Articles 141A, 141B and 141C of part 9A of  our constitution deals with emergency provisions. But Article 141A (1) specifically deals with declaration of emergency. Article 141 A (1) states

“if the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists in which the security or economic life of Bangladesh, or any part thereof, is threatened by war or external aggression or internal disturbance, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency”.[11]

Provided that such proclamation shall require for its validity the prior counter signature of the Prime Minister. So we can say that the President after taking the counter signature of the Prime Minister can declare two types of Emergency-(1) War emergency and (ii) Emergency of subversion on three grounds. They are war, external aggression and internal disturbance. Article 141A (3) can be highlighted in connection with declaration of emergency. Article 141A (3) states-A Proclamation of Emergency, declaring that the security of Bangladesh, or any part thereof, is threatened by war or external aggression or by internal disturbance, may be made before the actual occurrence of war or any such aggression or disturbance if the President is satisfied that there is imminent danger thereof.[12]

Article 141 C says, when emergency is declared the President may by an order suspend any fundamental rights conferred by part III of the constitution and this order may extend to the whole of Bangladesh or any part thereof.


From the foregoing discussion and analysis it is clear that the emergency provisions have both some good and bad sides. We know that sometimes or some situation that force to take the emergency law but I strongly recommend that emergency situation is not good for a country without some special case like Emergency of War, Emergency of Subversion, Economic or Financial Emergency and Natural disaster. Every people have right that he/she makes his/her life with freedom but the emergency destroys their freedom. Now most of the country follow democracy system for maintains their country and we know that democracy means “the government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections”[13] So the main power of democracy is people and emergency situation of the country destroy the democracy of the country. So, I hope that all government will take necessary steps to amend the emergency provisions as early as possible.


1.     Halim, Md. Abdul, “Constitution, Constitutional Law and Politics:

Bangladesh perspective” 1998, Dhaka, P 99

2.     Ahmed, Moudud, “Bangladesh: The Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

(1984),Dhaka, P. l0l

3.     Quoted by Patwari, A.B.M. Mafizul Islam, “Liberty of the People: Britian

And Bangladesh(Dhaka: Institute of Human Rights and Legal

Affairs1987) P.29

4.      http://www.cleanclothes.org/documents/CCC%20Briefing%20Bangladesh_

Emergency_and_Lab  our_Rights.pdf

5.     http://www.bdresearchpublications.com/admin/journal

6.     http://archaeology.about.com/od/sterms/g/socialorg.htm

7.     The Daily Prothom Alo 12 October 2010

8.     http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/democracy?show=0&t=12872

9. Khan, Hamiduddin, “The Fundamental Rights to Freedom of Association in

Indo-Pak-Bangladesh subcontinent” 1980, Dhaka, P.109

10. http://www.hrsolidarity.net/mainfile.php/1998vol08no01/1304

11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society

12. http://www.rajputbrotherhood.com/knowledgehub/politicalscience/

constitution of-india-emergency-provisions.html

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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_emergency

[2] http://www.cleanclothes.org/documents/CCC%20Briefing%20Bangladesh_Emergency_and_Labour_Rights.pdf

[3] http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/News-catid-147.html

[4] http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0706/Thailand-s-state-of-emergency-is-extended-criticized

[5] http://www.hrschool.org/doc/mainfile.php/lesson52/193/

[6] http://www.parliament.gov.bd/Constitution_English/part3.htm

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society

[8] http://archaeology.about.com/od/sterms/g/socialorg.htm

[9] http://www.bdresearchpublications.com/admin/journal

[10] http://www.rajputbrotherhood.com/knowledge-hub/political-science/constitution-of-india-emergency-provisions.html

[11] http://www.hrsolidarity.net/mainfile.php/1998vol08no01/1304/

[12] http://books.google.com/books?id=v_PIX6WBZgcC&pg=PA93&lpg=PA93&dq=Article+141A+%283%29+of+bangladesh&source=bl&ots=jWrdOCmPRA&sig=AYo-TeUh-YZa9ymKxSYEKwJv5mY&hl=en&ei=UYu6TNqcGNi4jAfdxcDIDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Article%20141A%20%283%29%20of%20bangladesh&f=false

[13] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy?show=0&t=1287322517