Bangladesh Parliament toughens war crime laws in face of protests

Last Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 - 13:22

London: Bangladesh Parliament has amended a law that will allow the state to appeal against the life sentence of an Islamist party leader, after protesters called for his execution.

The amendment has also paved the way for the prosecution and potential ban of the Jamaat-e-Islami party.

Jamaat chief Abdul Kader Mullah was given life sentence for his alleged role in crimes in the 1971 independence war, the BBC reports.

The ruling sparked nearly two weeks of mass protests in Dhaka and other cities.

According to the report, the government and others can now appeal against verdicts at the International Crimes Tribunal, set up in 2010 to try those Bangladeshis accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces and committing atrocities during the war.

The amendment will also give powers to the special tribunal to prosecute any organizations or political parties allegedly involved in war crimes.

The announcement comes a day after three people were killed in clashes between police and Jamaat supporters.

The Islamist party said that the latest changes to the law are nothing, but an attempt by the government to destroy the party.

Eight of the accused are Jamaat party leaders, while the remaining two are members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one a former minister.

Jamaat is an ally of the BNP, bitter political rivals of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has made prosecuting war crimes a key goal of her government, the report said.

Human rights groups have said the tribunal falls short of international standards. Jamaat and the BNP accuse the current government of pursuing a political vendetta through the tribunal, it added.


First Published: Monday, February 18, 2013 - 12:42

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