Bangladeshi Govt. under fire for alleged interference in trials intended to heal war-crime rifts
The Bangladesh Government is facing mounting pressure from opposition parties and human-rights groups for alleged political interference at a war-crimes tribunal intended to heal four-decade-old rifts, according to a report.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government set up the International Crimes Tribunal two years ago to investigate human-rights abuses committed during a civil war that led to Bangladesh's independence in 1971. It promised that the tribunal, which has the power to hand down death sentences, would adhere to international standards.
However, Bangladesh's opposition parties claim the government has politicized the process, as most of the 10 people on trial are members of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political party allied with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to the paper, the controversy around the tribunal has sown doubt around the credibility of the process, threatening to derail it and deepen political rifts rather than provide the intended closure to the civil-war turmoil in which hundreds of thousands died, many killed by Islamist militia who opposed Bangladesh, then part of Pakistan, becoming a separate country.
The government's opponents have based their claims that the trials are biased on a series of conversations that appear to be between the former chairman of the original tribunal, Mohammed Nizamul Huq, and a Bangladeshi human-rights lawyer based in Brussels, Ahmed Ziauddin, the paper said.
The Wall Street Journal said it has reviewed copies of transcripts of six conversations purported to be between Huq and Ziauddin carried out over Skype between August and October.
However, neither man has publicly commented on the authenticity of the conversation transcripts. Neither could be reached for comment, the paper added.
The transcripts have reignited a debate about whether developing countries like Bangladesh are able to conduct impartial war-crimes tribunals or should turn to international bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the paper concluded.