22 June 2009
PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE
Bangladesh war crimes: set up enquiry commission
No one, in Bangladesh including all the political parties, disagreed on the issue of war crimes trial, but the process must fair and accountable. And as a first instance a Commission of Enquiry needs to be set up to ensure the evidence compiled supports the allegation made, that no one involved in the war crimes slips through the net and, equally important, no one is victimised under the pretext of war crimes trial, said Abbas Faiz of Amnesty International at a seminar in the British House of Lords on 22 June 2009, chaired by Lord Avebury, Vice Chair of UK All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group & Chairman of International Bangladesh Foundation.
Amnesty International researcher Abbas Faiz had visited Bangladesh for a month in April - May 2009 and was reporting on his findings. He described the current human rights situation and answered questions. Abbas Faiz said that the continuing extrajudicial executions and deaths in custody was still a concern, though there was no visible politicisation, the independence of the judiciary was still some way to go, while BDR mutiny killers must be brought to justice human rights of the accused must be respected too.
Representatives of the major political parties of Bangladesh were invited to the seminar and took part in the Q & A session.
Contribution from the floor included UK Awami League’s chief Advisor Sultan Sheriff, Freedom Fighter Koyas Chowdhury, Chowdhury Hafiz of AwamiAinjibi Parishad, UK Awami League’s Vice President Zalal Uddin, BNP’s International Secretary Mohidur Rahman and M A Maleq amongst others.
Lord Avebury in summing up the discussion said that the BDR deaths in custody can not be all attributable to natural causes, and the government needs to give far more details about the inquiry into the deaths by a senior civil servant. With regards to CHT he said as the government is committed by its election manifesto, and by statements made by the Prime Minister to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission in February, to full implementation of the 1997 CHT Peace Accords. It would be good to know what specific measures have been taken, or are to be taken before the end of 2009, to this end.
On war crimes Lord Avebury said, the process shouldn't be speeded up at the expense of legitimacy, and the government should consult international experts on war crimes before deciding what amendments are necessary.
Bangladesh’s Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. Allama Siddiki said Bangladesh government was committed to human rights of all its citizens and was determined to complete the trial in a transparent and accountable way to seek justice for the victims of Bangladesh War of 1971. The Deputy High Commissioner also said his government had already sought assistance from and were seeking further assistance from the international community including the UN, US and the UK.
In his final remarks Lord Avebury acknowledged the Bangladesh Government’s initiatives and said, “The new government has formidable tasks in their hand, which may need substantial help from the international community. As friends of Bangladesh we would be pleased to help”.