Sunday, 17 February 2013

Human Rights Watch on changes to ICT laws

"Government-supported protests and the comments of the prime minister and other government and Awami League officials may affect the possibility of fair trials in ongoing and future cases, Human Rights Watch said. Reliable sources have told Human Rights Watch that some defense witnesses have decided not to appear in court, fearing reprisals. Human Rights Watch is concerned that judges may be afraid to give any sentence other than the death penalty in other cases.

“Instead of explaining to the public that the separation of powers and the rule of law mean accepting the decision of the courts, the government has now directly intervened in the trial process,” Adams said. “Convictions of those responsible for the 1971 atrocities is important for the country, but not at the expense of the principles that make Bangladesh a democracy.” "

'may affect the possibility of fair trials'? HRW has done a good job of documenting the various problems with the ICT and the trials, but the language used here is far too soft. How many collusion scandals, witness kidnappings, fabricated pieces of evidence and intimidated witnesses will it take before the obvious truth is acknowledged: it was a mistake to hold these trials in Bangladesh in the first place. They are not fair and have not been fair from day one. Had they been held in the Hague or perhaps even in Bangladesh under international auspices, JI would have had much less room for accusations of unfairness and the AL government would not have had the possibility to use the trials for its own petty political purposes. 

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