Re­claim­ing Jus­tice

Southasia - - Briefing -

Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina es­tab­lished the war crimes tri­bunal af­ter she re­turned to power in 2009. The gov­ern­ment claims that more than 3000 peo­ple were killed dur­ing the 1971 war, mur­dered by many who col­lab­o­rated with the Pak­istan army. While the sys­tem aims to pro­vide jus­tice and try those ac­cused of crimes against hu­man­ity, geno­cide, and war crimes, Hu­man Rights Watch states that the Tri­bunal’s le­gal pro­ce­dures are not in line with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. Ex­perts have warned the Bangladesh gov­ern­ment to ad­here to global bench­marks in or­der to con­duct an in­quiry into such a sen­si­tive and charged mat­ter.

U.S. Am­bas­sador-at-large for War Crimes Is­sues, Stephen Rapp, re­cently vis­ited Bangladesh and stated three crit­i­cal ac­tions that needed to be taken be­fore any trial could take place. Rapp men­tioned that the gov­ern­ment would have to de­scribe ‘crimes against hu­man­ity’ in their own per­spec­tive and it would have to ac­cord the same rights to the ac­cused as it would to any other Ban-

gladeshi cit­i­zen. The ac­cused should have a le­gal coun­sel, time to pre­pare his de­fense and the op­tion of chal­leng­ing the le­gal­ity of the process. Fur­ther­more, a wit­ness pro­tec­tion sys­tem must be de­vel­oped and the trial should be broad­cast to the public, high­light­ing key tes­ti­monies, ar­gu­ments and ver­dicts.

Though the first trial is un­der­way, in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights bod­ies are not con­vinced the sys­tem is up to the mark and have termed the sys­tem it­self a vi­o­la­tion of jus­tice and hu­man rights. The gov­ern­ment has de­cided to con­tinue with the process.

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