[JURIST] Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] has approved the creation of a so-called Truth and Accountability Commission which would allow corrupt officials and businessmen guilty of corruption to avoid jail by confessing and returning money taken, officials said Monday. The commission would operate under the country's new Voluntary Disclosure of Information Ordinance for five months, and those officials who come forward would still be prohibited from running for political office or holding board positions at any public company, bank, or financial institution for five years. The commission is designed to ease the burden on the country's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) [governing statute; JURIST news archive] which faces a huge backlog and which government officials say could take decades to prosecute all of the offenders. Plans for the establishment of a "truth commission" were first announced [JURIST report] last October as a way to instill more investor confidence in the country which has experienced a significant decrease in economic growth. AFP has more.
Bangladesh's current anti-corruption crackdown began after President Iajuddin Ahmed declared a state of emergency [JURIST report] in the country and canceled a scheduled national election in January 2007. Eight former Bangladeshi ministers were subsequently accused of corruption and 13 other former ministers and senior politicians were arrested during raids on their homes [JURIST reports]. Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [party profile; JURIST news archive] faces corruption charges for receiving illegal kick-backs from both a power-plant construction deal and oil and gas contracts [JURIST reports]. Former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [UN profile] also faces charges related to oil and gas contracts [JURIST report].