Monthly Archives: February, 2013

Bangladesh sentences Islamist leader to death for war crimes

A Bangladesh war crimes tribunal sentenced an Islamist party leader to death on Thursday, the third verdict by the court set up to investigate abuses during the country’s independence war.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, 73, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was found guilty of charges of mass killing, rape, arson, looting and forcing minority Hindus to convert to Islam during the 1971 independence war, lawyers and tribunal officials said.

The religious party, known as Jamaat, called for a day-long countrywide strike in anticipation of the verdict against Sayedee, the third senior party member convicted by the tribunal. The strike call was largely ignored.

“The verdict has appropriately demonstrated justice. We are happy,” state prosecutor Haider Ali told reporters.

Jamaat officials were not immediately available for comment. They condemned the two earlier convictions. (more…)

Nepal: Denial of right to housing and forced evictions

International human rights law recognizes the right of all to an adequate standard of living, and that includes adequate housing. The human right to adequate housing recognises that every man, woman, youth and child has the right to acquire and maintain a secure home and community in which to live in peace with dignity. The Interim Constitution of Nepal aims to establish a right for all citizens to education, health, housing, and employment. Despite this constitutional protection, millions of our people suffer from inadequate standards in housing, health and food. Questions must be asked. Why is there so little being done to improve matters? Why do only a few privileged elites and new elites enjoy most of the country’s resources and welfare programmes?

The Maoist-led government have demolished many areas of the capital evicting in the process hundreds of households and failing to provide alternative accommodation. The residents, including women and school children, had been living there for many years but were evicted to make way for a planned urban development project: many were left homeless. The Bhattarai-led alliance has been forcibly bulldozing the homes of people for many years in the name of development and carrying out road widening schemes without complying with the proper legal procedures. The evictions and the destruction of people’s residences were not carried out in compliance with applicable due process standards, and the government has not provided compensation or social services to those affected, including children. (more…)

Maldives: Under-age rape victim convicted of fornication, sentenced to 100 lashes

A 15-year-old rape victim from the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll was convicted of premarital sex at the Juvenile Court today and sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest.

In June 2012, the girl gave birth to a baby that was discovered buried in the outdoor shower area of her homeHer stepfather was later charged with child sexual abuse, possession of pornographic materials and committing premeditated murder.

Her mother was meanwhile charged with concealing a crime and failing to report child sexual abuse to the authorities.

An official from the Prosecutor General (PG)’s office told Minivan News in January this year that the fornication charges against the minor were related to a separate offence of premarital sex that emerged during the police investigation. The charges were filed on November 25, 2012.

In its verdict delivered today, the Juvenile Court ordered the state to transfer the girl to the Children’s Home in Villigili to enforce the sentence of eight months house arrest, according to local media reports. (more…)

Bangladesh: Focus shifts now to Supreme Court

Now all eyes are on the Supreme Court and the government as the latter prepares to appeal against the war crimes tribunal’s verdict that sentenced Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Mollah to a “lenient” life in prison.

The appeal seeking the death sentence could be filed as soon as next week utilising the amended International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973, which President Zillur Rahman signed yesterday.

The defence of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Quader Mollah, convicted of committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War, is also preparing to appeal against the tribunal verdict and to have him acquitted.

The defence and the prosecution have time until March 6 to file the appeals and the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court would have to dispose of the appeals within 60 days of their filing. (more…)

Bangladesh protests trigger changes to war crimes law

Bangladesh’s parliament has amended a law which will allow the state to appeal against the life sentence of an Islamist party leader, after protesters called for his execution.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in the capital, Dhaka, cheered the news.

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

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

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

Demonstrators – mainly young men and women – demanded the death penalty for Mullah and 10 others accused of committing crimes against humanity during the country’s war of independence war with Pakistan in 1971.

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

Bangladesh: Post-Trial Amendments Taint War Crimes Process

Retroactive legislation that violates fair trial standards undermines the legitimacy of the work of Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT). The amendments were offered to enable an appeals court to overturn a life sentence imposed on Abdul Qader Mollah and impose the death penalty.

Amid controversy over the conviction and sentencing of  people accused of crimes during the 1971 independence war with Pakistan, Human Rights Watch also called on the security  forces to restrict their use of force and firearms only to situations in which  it is absolutely necessary.

“Justice for victims of war crimes and other serious abuses during the 1971 war of liberation is essential,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “But a government supposedly guided by the rule of law cannot simply pass retroactive laws to overrule court decisions when it doesn’t like them. The Bangladesh government should pause, take a deep breath, and repeal the proposed amendments, which make a mockery of the trial process.”

The ICT was established to hold accountable those responsible for grave violations of international law during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971. Most of the accused in the war crimes cases are longstanding senior leaders of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islaami party, which opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan. (more…)

OHCHR Report on advice and technical assistance to Sri Lanka, on reconciliation and accountability

For the full report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on advice and technical assistance for the Government of Sri Lanka on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, click here

Summary and Conclusions/Recomendations below.

Summary

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission made significant and far-reaching recommendations towards reconciliation and strengthening the rule of law in Sri Lanka, despite its limitations. In order to define areas of possible advice and assistance by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the special procedures pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 19/2, the present report examines the recommendations of the Commission and the plans of the Government of Sri Lanka to implement them, and to address alleged violations of international law. (more…)

No effort made to follow up promises on human trafficking: Human Rights Commission of Maldives

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has accused state and private sector employers in the country of lacking consistency in their efforts to address human trafficking, preventing “real” change in controlling illegal migration.

HRCM member Jeehan Mahmoud told Minivan News that despite attempts under the present government to try and introduce new legislation, the Maldives had made little progress towards improving the treatment and rights of foreign workers over the last four years.

The government has in recent months launched a special campaign intended to raising awareness of the rights of foreign workers, while also last month ratifying eight “fundamental” International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions intended to bring legislation on employee rights and trade unions in line with international standards.

However, independent institutions in the Maldives have maintained that the country is yet to ratify a core convention on protecting migrant worker rights, while no legislation is in place to punish those involved in smuggling workers though the country’s borders. (more…)

UN human rights experts urge Bangladesh to ensure fair trials for past crimes

Two independent United Nations human rights experts today stressed that justice for past crimes in Bangladesh requires fair trials, after voicing concern at recent sentences, including the death penalty, handed down in cases that did not ensure due process.

The International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh recently sentenced Abdul Kalam Azad to death, following a trial conducted in absentia that did not provide for all the guarantees of a fair trial and due process, states a news release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

Then on 5 February, the Tribunal sentenced Abdul Kader Molla to life imprisonment. Judicial proceedings are underway in several other cases and there is a risk that the defendants could also be sentenced to death.

“Given the historic importance of these trials and the possible application of the death penalty, it is vitally important that all defendants before the Tribunal receive a fair trial,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul. (more…)

Bangladesh: National Human Rights Commission trashes Human Rights Watch views

The National Human Rights Commission has strongly refuted the Human Rights Watch’s observations about the conduct of trial by international crimes tribunals in Bangladesh.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its “2013 World Report” released on February 1 said, “Serious flaws in the laws and rules of procedure governing the trials of ICT have gone unaddressed, despite proposals from the US government and many international experts.”

In its reaction, the NHRC yesterday said the tribunals have been working independently and transparently. In the report, the HRW could not provide any facts to back up the doubts raised about the tribunals’ transparency and impartiality. (more…)

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