Bangladesh refutes UN claim on war crimes trial

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Bangladesh has refuted the claim of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the trials of war criminals at the International Crimes Tribunal were not fair.

Saying that the statement is “highly disturbing,” the government has sent a reply to the OHCHR and protested such claim.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release in this regard on Thursday, two days after the UN rights body issued the statement involving war crimes trial in the country.

On Tuesday, the UN human rights body renewed its call to the government of Bangladesh to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty and abolish it.

The statement came two days after BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid were executed for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War.

In a statement, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ravina Shamdasani said: “We’ve long warned given the doubts that have been raised about the fairness of trials conducted before the Tribunal, the government of Bangladesh should not implement death penalty sentences.”

In reply, the foreign ministry press statement said: “Both the convicted individuals have been handed down the death sentence by the ICT-BD for charges proven against them beyond reasonable doubts. The verdicts were subsequently upheld by the Appellate Division of Bangladesh Supreme after a full bench hearing.

“On the judgment of the Supreme Court, the Review Petitions submitted by the convicted persons have also been heard by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on 18 November 2015, and subsequently disposed of.”

Bangladesh explained that the ICT-BD trials takes solely into consideration the crimes committed by the individuals accused and convicted for crimes against humanity they had committed in 1971, and has no preoccupation with their present political status, reads the press release.

“Mr Chowdhury or Mr Mujahid’s cases have nothing to do with their political identity or affiliation, and the point that they belong to some opposition political parties is only a coincidence as far as the trials are concerned.”

“Moreover, certain accused and convicted individuals in the ICT-BD trials are with ruling party and its electoral allies. In this regard, Bangladesh has given a full account of the trials and proceedings related to the two cases of Messers Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid,” it added.

Bangladesh also reiterated that as a state party to the ICCPR, along with its Optional Protocol, Bangladesh is obliged to maintain international standards in its judicial process.  The provisions of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 (ICT Act 1973) and the rules made thereunder are not inconsistent with the rights of the accused enshrined under article 14 of the ICCPR.

The Government recognises its responsibility towards its citizens and is committed to fulfill its obligations to the citizens of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s response to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasised that the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 (ICT Act 1973) of Bangladesh was enacted by the Bangladesh Parliament which is vested with the legislative powers of the Republic under the Constitution.

Source: Dhaka Tribune