Bangladesh:- Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal do not meet international standards of fair trial and due process?

This recent execution of  Motiur Rahman Nizami on 11/5/2016  forces us to look at Bangladesh, and the Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (BICT), which really is not even an International tribunal – but really a Bangladeshi Tribunal.

The BICT, was established in 2009 pursuant to The International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, and after the Awami League won the general election in December 2008 with a more than two-thirds majority in parliament, they started using it. The BICT is charged with investigating and prosecuting war crimes committed during the 1971 conflict, in which about 3 million people were killed. 

The problem with the BICT is that it does not meet international fair trial standards, a fact that has been raised by the UN and many Human Rights Groups. Even the Bangladesh’s Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 (V of 1898), and the Evidence Act, 1872 (I of 1872), do not apply to BICT proceedings of the BICT – and so the normal standards that applies to other criminal trials in Bangladesh do not apply to BICT trials.

“the Tribunal have unfortunately not met international standards of fair trial and due process as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)…Serious due process problems, which have been repeatedly raised by various UN independent experts, include lack of adequate access to legal assistance and a lack of equality of arms between the prosecution and the defence, among other issues..” – Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Amnesty International notes that almost all of the ICT’s verdicts since it was established have been against members of opposition parties, mainly individuals associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Well serious crimes were also committed by pro-independence forces, but no one has been investigated or brought to justice for them.

In August 2013, the Bangladesh’s High Court declared the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s main Islamist party, is illegal, banning it from contesting January’s general election. – Aljazeera, 1/8/2013

By 2012, nine leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in the nation, and two of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, had been indicted as suspects in war crimes. In February 2013, Abdul Quader Molla, Assistant Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was the first person sentenced to death by the ICT who was not convicted in absentia. The others are:-

Quader Molla, former assistant secretary of  Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 12 December 2013.

Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, former  Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami was hanged on 22 November 2015

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury,  seven-term member of parliament and member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) hanged on 22 November 2015

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, former senior assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 11 April 2015.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, leader of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was executed on 11/5/2016.

Others who have been convicted BICT and sentenced to death, and yet to be executed are Mir Quasem Ali (Jamaat-e-Islami) and Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin(uncertain?)

UN rights office expresses concern about death sentences in Bangladesh

OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. Photo:UN Multimedia

8 April 2016 – The United Nations human rights office today expressed concern about the latest death sentences handed down against two leaders of an opposition party by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal, noting the court’s practices have not met international standards of fair trial and due process.

Since its inception in 2010, the tribunal has delivered at least 17 verdicts, the majority of which have resulted in the imposition of the death penalty. So far, four men have been executed, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“The UN opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, no matter the gravity of the crime committed and even if the most stringent fair trial standards were respected,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

While recognising Bangladesh’s determination to tackle past crimes, the trials conducted before the Tribunal have unfortunately not met international standards of fair trial and due process as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), she said.

Serious due process problems, which have been repeatedly raised by various UN independent experts, include lack of adequate access to legal assistance and a lack of equality of arms between the prosecution and the defence, among other issues, she added.

OHCHR called on Bangladesh to respect its obligations under the ICCPR, to which it acceded in 2000. Article 14 of the ICCPR details the right to a fair trial. The imposition of a death sentence following a trial in which these provisions have not been respected constitutes a violation of the right to life.

The two leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami opposition party who were given death sentences are Mir Quasem Ali and Motiur Rahman Nizami.

The former was sentenced to death in November 2014 by the Tribunal, and the Supreme Court also upheld the verdict on 8 March.

Nizami was sentenced to death on charges of planning, ordering and committing murders and rapes, among other serious crimes during the 1971 war of independence. He filed a review petition against his death warrant, due to be heard on Sunday, 10 April, following a one-week deferral. This is the last stage of the legal process in appealing against his execution, other than to seek a presidential pardon. “We hope it will be considered thoroughly by the court,” the spokesperson said.

Bangladesh reportedly has more than 1,200 prisoners on death row. In the month of March this year alone, at least 13 people were reportedly sentenced to death in separate murder cases in four districts in Bangladesh.

“We renew our call to the Government of Bangladesh, as a first step forward, to halt all executions and institute a moratorium on the use of the death penalty,” the spokesperson said.- UN News Center, 3/4/2016

Source also include Charles Hector Blog, where Charles Hector is the Coordinator of MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture), a member of ADPAN.

 

 


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