Group urges Bangladesh on war crimes proceedings

Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed around 3 million people.

Dhaka: An international rights group is urging Bangladesh to bring its proceedings related to alleged war crimes committed during the country`s 1971 war for independence into compliance with international standards.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday that the government needs to do more to make its efforts to try suspects accused of crimes against humanity during the war that gained Bangladesh independence from Pakistan internationally accepted.

The government set up a tribunal in March 2010 to prosecute those accused of collaborating with the Pakistani Army in killings and other crimes during the war.

Human Rights Watch praised Bangladesh for recently amending a 1973 act outlining prosecution and punishment for people accused of genocide and other crimes under international law.

But the group said that more changes need to be made, including that an accused should be able to question the impartiality of the tribunal, which current law prohibits. It also said changes were needed regarding the enumeration of crimes to ensure that the definitions of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide conform with international standards.

"Bangladesh has promised to meet international standards in these trials, but it has some way to go to meet this commitment," Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch`s Asia director, said in the statement.

The administration of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has arrested four top leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the nation`s largest Islamic party. The suspects face charges including genocide, murder, rape, torture, looting and arson related to the independence war.

Jamaat-e-Islami, which sided with Pakistan during the war, says the charges are politically motivated.

Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed an estimated three million people, raped about 200,000 women and forced millions to flee their homes.

Bureau Report