Two UN human rights experts on Monday urged [press release] the Bangladesh government to halt the execution of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [party website; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] Assistant Secretary General Abdul Quader Mollah, based on concerns that he did not receive a fair trial. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh [official website] sentenced Mollah to death [JURIST report] without appeal in September, and his execution could occur as early as Tuesday. Gabriela Knaul [official profile], UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said that the right of appeal is particularly important in death penalty cases:
Anyone convicted of a crime has the right to have his or her conviction and sentence reviewed by a higher tribunal, as laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bangladesh is a party. This provision is violated where a court of final instance imposes a harsher sentence that cannot be reviewed.Christof Heyns [official profile], UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, said that stringent due process guarantees distinguish capital punishment as "possibly permitted" under international law from a summary execution, "which by definition violates human rights standards."
Protests in Bangladesh have been escalating in large part due to increased brutality by the security forces responding to the violence. Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report in August documenting the brutality [JURIST report], as a result of which more than 150 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured since February. A large portion of the current protests involve the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami and residual anger over the nation's recent war crimes trials. HRW issued [JURIST report] an appeal to the group in March to end violent protests and clashes between the group's supporters and Bangladeshi police, which resulted in at least 46 deaths [BBC report] that month alone. Appeals to members of Jamaat-e-Islaami to respect the rule of law and engage in peaceful exchange have been made particularly difficult by an August ruling by a Bangladeshi high court declaring the organization an illegal political party [JURIST report]. Predictably, there has been an increase in violent protests since the decision rather than an increase in constructive dialogue.