A US Senator-elect has urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to bring necessary changes to the International Crimes Tribunal act in order to prosecute war criminals for crimes committed during the war of liberation in 1971.
"Many in the international justice movement commend the country's precedent setting efforts to create a war crimes tribunal, but wish to remove the strong suspension that the Tribunal is being used as a tool for political revenge because of its denial of fair trial standards to the accused. I encourage your government to make necessary changes to the Act in order to comply with international standards as ratified in the Rome statute of the Internal Criminal Court," US Senator-elect John Boozman made the call in a letter sent to the Prime Minister recently.
Referring to the concerns raised by several international organisations, including Human Rights Watch's Asia Division, the War Crimes Commission of the International Bar Association and the War Crimes Project and Amnesty International that the Act does not meet internationally recognised fair trial standards, the two-page letter said the Act prohibits persons charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other crimes under international law to challenge any law providing for their prosecution and punishment on the grounds that it is inconsistent with any provisions of the Constitution.
"Thus, the Act cannot be challenged because it violates constitutional rights that apply to other criminal proceedings. This renders the Act fundamentally at odds with the rule of law that ensures equal treatment of persons before the law. It is therefore vital the Act be updated to make the process compatible with international standards," said the US Senator-elect in his letter.
It said since the Act should be amended to update the provisions to comply with the Rome statute of the international Criminal Court, ratified in 2002, of which Bangladesh is a signatory.
"Without the necessary updates, the Bangladesh Tribunal will continue to be politically volatile and controversial," the letter said.
John Boozman said, "I am concerned that unless the law is updated to be consistent with international law it will be impossible to adequately protect the human right of the accused."Details in The New Nation