Cablegate: Attorney General Hassan Ariff Resigns

Published: Thu 28 Apr 2005 07:51 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary. The unexpected resignation of the independent-
minded Attorney General, over seemingly minor matters, could
trigger the unfortunate departure of the Deputy Attorney
General who energetically coordinates anti-TIP prosecutions.
End Summary.
2. (SBU) Attorney General A.F. Hassan Ariff tendered his
resignation on April 28. He cited health grounds but the
actual cause appears to have been BDG dissatisfaction with
his level of support for pro-BNP members in recent Supreme
Court Bar Association elections and his effective acceptance
of the Bangladesh Bar Council's cancellation of the law
license, for fraudulent credentials, of a pro-BNP High Court
judge. PM Khaleda Zia is expected to accept the
resignation, effective May 1.
3. (SBU) Ariff has been AG since the outset of the BNP-led
administration in October 2001. He periodically told us
that he would resign unless the BDG moved to implement the
1999 Supreme Court directive to separate the judiciary from
the executive, and he angered BNP officials by refusing to
argue personally the BDG's case for yet more extensions on
separation. In 2004, Ariff pondered resignation after the
BDG's appointment of controversial High Court judges but
reportedly agreed to stay on at the PM's request.
4. (SBU) One possible consequence of Ariff's departure is
the resignation of Deputy AG Adilur Rahman Khan, who has
energetically and effectively coordinated the BDG's
aggressive prosecution of human traffickers. Ariff is his
mentor and private practice law partner; both started and
remain active at prominent human rights NGO Odhikar. On
April 26, Khan told us, in the context of his future, that
he came with Ariff and he would leave with him.
5. (SBU) Ariff has recommended as his successor his deputy,
senior Additional AG A.J. Mohammad Ali. Another candidate
is Additional AG Abdur Rezak Khan, who is a BNP activist.
Ariff told us that one reason the BDG accepted his
resignation was so it could appoint an AG who would better
promote the BNP agenda ahead of the general election
expected in early 2007.
6. (SBU) Comment: Ariff was sympathetic to the BNP but not a
party member. In a government characterized by cronyism, he
was a rare example of competence and integrity. It is
ironic that his departure was ultimately triggered by a
seemingly minor matter like the internal election of a
marginal professional body and not an important issue like
separation of the judiciary. Deputy AG Khan's departure
would be a major blow to anti-TIP prosecutions, at least in
the short term.
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