Bangladesh establishes tribunal for 1971 war crimes

[JURIST] Bangladesh officials on Thursday announced the establishment of a special war crimes tribunal that will hear cases against individuals accused of war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. According to Law Minister Shafique Ahmed [official profile], the tribunal will include [AP report] three high court judges and six investigators retired from civilian, law enforcement, and military careers. The trials investigating the 1971 war crimes will take place under the recently amended International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973 [text]. Officials estimate that Pakistani soldiers and local militia participated in more than three million killings and 200,000 rapes.

On Monday, the Bangladesh Cabinet [official website] ratified the Rome Statute [JURIST report] of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Although the ratification will not directly affect Bangladesh's pending war crimes trials for the 1971 Liberation War because the ICC can only hear cases arising since its formation in 2002, it will require the country to update its laws to reflect provisions of the statute. Last month, the Bangladeshi government announced [JURIST report] that the prosecutors and investigators for the country's war crimes tribunal should be appointed in March. In July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [BBC profile] to improve war crimes laws [JURIST report] to bring justice to victims of the 1971 war. Last April, the UN agreed to advise [JURIST report] the Bangladeshi government on the organization and operation of the tribunal.

 

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