Corporate Vehicular Manslaughter Provisions In The Bangladesh Road Transport Act 2018: A Textual Comparison With Their Equivalents in Australia
Criminal Law Forum
The road transport sector in Bangladesh has been simply disorderly for years and gradually going from bad to worse killing about 20,000 people and grievously injuring 50,000 every year as reported by the World Health Organisation. Government transport authorities publicly admit their failure in disciplining the critical sector. The government was ultimately compelled to enact legislation in 2018 following the deaths of two teenage students who were run over by a bus, which triggered nationwide protests effectively paralysing the transport sector for more than a week. To pacify the agitated students, the government enacted the Road Transport Act 2018 which, for the first time, directly imposes criminal responsibility on transport companies, their owners and officers. This article critically examines that corporate liability provisions (liabilities of the companies, their owners, officers, employees – excluding transport workers) from the perspective of vehicular manslaughter in light of their equivalents in Australia, and with sporadic references to common law principles as relevant to both Bangladesh and Australia which have inherited their legal systems from the British colonial rule. We argue that the new provisions have several flaws including the definition of the offence, defences available, and penalties prescribed – which significantly undermine the utility and effectiveness of the new legislation. We provide specific suggestions for amending these provisions aimed at improving road safety in Bangladesh, however, these considerations may also benefit other jurisdictions.
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