On 17 July 2018 International Crimes Tribunal-1 of the International Criminal Tribunal of Bangladesh (ICTB) sentenced four persons to death for crimes against humanity and genocide which were committed during the 9-month war of independence of Bangladesh in 1971. This civil war resulted in mass killings, persecutions, deaths, sexual violence and displacements and genocide by the Pakistan armed forces and paramilitary groups that collaborated with them.
The four accused, Md. Akmal Ali Talukder, Abdun Nur Talukder Lal Miah, Md. Anis Miah and Md. Abdul Mosabbir Miah, residents of Moulavibazar, resisted the idea of an independent Bangladesh and were affiliated in a local para military force that collaborated with the Pakistan armed forces. The crimes took place in Pachgaon village, Paschimbag village, Moulaviazar Town and at Rajanagar Police station in 1971 against those who were in favor of a liberated Bangladesh.
There are two charges against the four accused:
Charge no.1) Genocide and abduction, confinement, torture, rape, looting and arson committed at Pachgaon village under Rajnagar Police Station of the then Moulavibazar Sub-Division.
Charge no.2) Abduction, confinement, torture, murder, looting and arson committed at Paschimbag village, Rajnagar Police Station and Moulavibazar town.
According to the ICTB, the four accused men were found criminally liable for (charge no.1): "participating, abetting, assisting, substantially contributing and also for complicity, by their act and conduct forming part of systematic attack, to the accomplishment of devastating criminal activities and mass killing directing Hindu civilians of village-Pachgaon constituting the offence of ‘genocide’" as enumerated in section 3(2)(a)(c)(g)(h) of the Act of 1973.
The Tribunal also found the four men criminally liable for (charge no.2): "participating, abetting, facilitating, contributing and complicity in the commission of offences of ‘confinement’, ‘torture’, ‘abduction’ and ‘murder’ of unarmed civilians constituting the offences of crimes against humanity as enumerated ICT-BD Case No.08 of 2016 Chief Prosecutor vs. Md. Akamal Ali Talukder & 03 Others 141 in section 3(2)(a)((g)(h) of the Act of 1973 which are punishable under section 20(2) of the said Act."
All four have been found guilty of committing genocide of 59 Hindu villagers, raping 6 Hindu women, looting around 102 houses and setting more than 132 houses on fire in 1971. The Tribunal considered the committed crimes as 'system crimes', and in violation of international humanitarian law, the Genocide Convention of 1948 and the laws of war in Bangladesh in 1971.
With regard to charge no.01, the ICTB convicted and condemned the accused four men to the ‘Sentence of death’ under section 20(2) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973. With respect to charge no.2, the accused are convicted and sentenced to suffer ‘Imprisonment for life till biological death’ under section 20(2) of the Act. Charge no.02 will get merged into the ‘sentences of death’.
The International Criminal Tribunal of Bangladesh is a national court which has been established in 2009 in order to provide for the detention, prosecution and punishment of persons for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other crimes under international law (International Crimes Act). Earlier this year, ten others have been prosecuted (See cases ICT-BD 04 of 2016, ICT-BD 05 of 2015 and ICT-BD 06 of 2016). This verdict is the 33rd since the establishment of the Court.
Over the years the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh has faced several criticisms, including that of being biased, failing to meet even a basic standard of fairness, applying the death penalty, violating international human rights standards, intolerance of sceptical commentary, etc.[number of readers: 607]
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Chopra, S., "The International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh: Silencing Fair Comment", Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 17 (2015) No. 2, pp. 211-220.
- D'Costa, B., "War Crimes, Justice and the Politics of Memory", in Hoque, M. and Wara, U. (eds.), Bangladesh Genocide and the Issue of Justice: Papers Presented in the International Conference Held at Heidelberg University, Germany, 4-5 July, 2013, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Liberation War Museum, 2013, pp. 126-135.
- Hoque, R., "War Crimes Trial in Bangladesh: A Legal Analysis of Fair Trial Debates", The Australian journal of Asian law, 17 (2016), No. 1, pp. 1-19.
- Linton, S., "Completing the Circle: Accountability for the Crimes of the 1971 Bangladesh War of Liberation", Criminal Law Forum: An International Journal: the Official Journal of the Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, 21 (2010), No. 2, pp. 191-311.
- Linton, S., "Bangladesh and the Prosecution of International Crimes from the 1971 War of Independence from Pakistan", Criminal Law Forum: An International Journal: the official journal of the Society for the Reform of Criminal Law, 21 (2010), No. 2, pp. 187-190.
- Menon, P., "International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh. ", MPILux Working Paper 11 (2017), Max Planck Institute Luxembourg.
- The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971, Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Press, 2015.
- Moses, A.D., "The United Nations, Humanitarianism, and Human Rights: War Crimes/Genocide Trials for Pakistani Soldiers in Bangladesh, 1971-1974", in Hoffmann, S. (ed.), Human rights in the Twentieth Century, New York, NY [etc.], Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 258-279.
- Paust, J. and Blaustein, A., "War Crimes Jurisdiction and Due Process: the Bangladesh Experience", Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 11 (1978), No. , pp. 1-38.
- Rahman, M., "Reflections on the Issue of Justice: the Role of International Community and the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh", in Hoque, M. and Wara, U. (eds.), Bangladesh Genocide and the Issue of Justice: Papers Presented in the International Conference Held at Heidelberg University, Germany, 4-5 July, 2013, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Liberation War Museum, 2013, pp. 136-140.
- Studzinski, S., "Challenges to a Succesful Prosecution of Sexualized and Gender-based Crimes", in Hoque, M. and Wara, U. (eds.), Bangladesh genocide and the issue of justice: Papers Presented in the International Conference Held at Heidelberg University, Germany, 4-5 July, 2013, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Liberation War Museum, 2013, pp. 90-95.