Bangladesh death penalty aims to isolate Jamaat

Istanbul-based International Jurists Union says death penalty given to Bangladeshi politician for 'war crimes' serves to get rid of political opponents.

Bangladesh death penalty aims to isolate Jamaat

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The death penalty given to Bangladeshi politician Mohammad Kamaruzzaman for alleged war crimes during the country’s 1971 war of independence serves to “get rid of political opponents,” Istanbul-based International Jurists Union told.

Kamaruzzaman, a leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami party, had his petition for a trial review rejected by Bangladesh’s Supreme Court Monday, the final step in the judicial process after a court upheld his death sentence in December 2014.

Husnu Tuna, a lawyer with the union, said that the death penalty only served to isolate the Jamaat-i-Islami both politically and socially.

“The court tries to get rid of (the Bangladeshi government’s) political opponents through war crime accusations and public humiliation,” Tuna told.

He said that although the domestic court handing out the harsh penalties was a so-called “international” crimes tribunal, it was far from meeting international standards of justice and impartiality.

“The tribunal does not really follow any national or international trial or criminal procedures. It is basically illegitimate considering its structure and operation,” he said, noting that the government had appointed all judges and prosecutors of the tribunal, and all members of the investigation committee.

- ‘ICC should get involved’

Tuna said the tribunal’s trials were based on rules set by the governing party's administration, the Ministry of Justice and some chief public prosecutors, without any respect for international principles of fair trial or universal human rights.

Yasin Samli, another lawyer with the Union, said that the tribunal’s jurisdiction must be clearly defined and all judges must be replaced with “independent and impartial” judges.

“Because it is not likely to ensure international standards in a trial where the judge, prosecutor and all members of investigation committee are appointed by the government and all of the accused people are members of two different political parties which are opposed to the government,” he said.

Samli said that all cases must be transferred to the International Criminal Court, or the ICC at The Hague, and all proceedings must be transparent and open to international monitoring.

“At this point, we are of the opinion that the proceedings must be held by the ICC and the cases must be transferred to the ICC, pursuant to the Rome Statute, to which the Government of Bangladesh is a party. If such transfer is not made, then the United Nations should create an independent and impartial commission and monitor all stages of proceedings,” he said.

He also stressed that it was essential to realign previous court orders in line with international human rights standards.

- Call made to stay death sentence

The Bangladesh Supreme Court’s rejection on April 6 of Kamaruzzaman’s petition for a death penalty review “permits his imminent execution despite a seriously flawed trial,” Human Rights Watch said Monday.

The human rights watchdog said that the authorities should immediately stay Kamaruzzaman’s death sentence pending an independent review of his case.

“The death penalty is an irreversible and cruel punishment that is made even worse when the judiciary fails to fully review such sentences,” Brad Adams, Asia director, said.

“Bangladesh’s war crimes trials have been plagued by persistent and credible allegations of fair trial violations that require impartial judicial review,” Adams added.

- “Politically motivated tribunal”

Kamaruzzaman was, at the time of the war, a senior figure in the Jamaat-i-Islami’s student wing, Islami Chatra Sangha.

The party had aligned itself with the Pakistan Army during the war -- which according to official figures saw three million Bangladeshis killed over nine months -- and allegedly had close ties to the Al-Badr militia, which supported Pakistani army-backed alleged war crimes.

According to the war crimes tribunal, Kamaruzzaman was allegedly a regional leader of the Al-Badr forces, commanding two camps and using his position as a student leader to gain recruits, and commit heinous atrocities.

The Istanbul-based International Jurists Union was founded with the participation of jurists from 32 different countries to operate at an international level for the protection of human rights and dignity, and establishment of the rule of law principle, according to the Union’s website. It has no links with the government of Turkey.

Last Mod: 08 Nisan 2015, 17:22
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