War crime trial to be immune from legal challenges
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 00:39
Dhaka: The government plans to amend the constitution to make the special war crimes tribunal immune from legal challenges as it steps up efforts to punish those accused of genocide and siding with the Pakistani military during the 1971 'Liberation War' in Bangladesh.

"If the specific change is brought to the constitution, the individuals who are now facing trials on charges of war crimes cannot challenge the legality of the trials," Law Minister Shafique Ahmed was quoted as saying by Star online, the website of The Daily Star today.

The process underway is to amend the constitution so that the legality of the trial of war crimes suspects, who were not part of any armed forces or auxiliary forces in 1971, is not challenged in court.

"The trials will get constitutional protection," he underlined.

The Law Ministry is drafting a constitutional amendment bill, including this change, to be placed in the House in line with recommendations made by the parliamentary special committee, the minister said.

The parliamentary special committee on constitutional amendment in its report placed in the House on June 8 recommended an amendment to article 47(3) of the constitution to avert legal difficulties in trying individuals or groups of individuals on charges of war crimes.

On March 25, 2010, the ruling Awami League government set up a special tribunal for the trial of "war criminals" accused of genocide and those who sided with the Pakistani military during the 'Liberation War'.

The security forces have arrested some of the top leaders of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), who have been accused of "war crimes".

Jamaat, an ally of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and several other rightwing groups are accused of siding with the then Pakistani junta in 1971.

Five of Jamaat's top leaders, including its chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid and Delwar Hossain Sayeedi have been detained.

Nizami and Mojahid led the so-called Al-Badr forces, which is widely believed to have been involved in genocide, rape and murder of frontline intellectuals.

The investigators have quizzed Nizami, Mojahid, Sayedi and BNP lawmaker Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.

Last year, former premier and main Opposition leader Khaleda Zia had alleged that the government's initiative "in the name of war crimes trial four decades after independence" had pushed the nation towards a confrontation while "the real war criminals" have been released.

According to official figures, Pakistani troops, aided by local collaborators, killed an estimated 3 million people, raped about 200,000 women and forced millions more to leave their homes during the bloody nine-month guerrilla war.

On March 26, 1971, Bangladesh - then East Pakistan - declared its independence from West Pakistan.


First Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 00:39

comments powered by Disqus