Bangladesh: execution of Muhammad Kamaruzzaman undermines justice

The ICJ today condemned the execution of Muhammad Kamaruzzaman following an unfair trial. The ICJ repeated its call for the authorities in Bangladesh to institute an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty in the country.

Muhammad Kamaruzzaman (photo), a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged today in Dhaka Central jail.

He had been sentenced to death by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in 2013 for his role in the atrocities committed during the 1971 war for independence in Bangladesh.

His conviction and sentence were confirmed on appeal in 2014.

The government established the ICT in 2010, after amending the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.

The ICT has jurisdiction to try crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, genocide, violations of the Geneva conventions and any other crimes under international law.

The ICJ has previously raised concerns that trials before the ICT do not comply with international standards for fair trials.

According to the ICJ, there are serious procedural flaws at all stages: pre-trial release has been routinely and arbitrarily denied; witnesses have been abducted and intimidated; and there have been credible allegations of collusion between the Government, prosecutors and judges.

“This execution constitutes a violation of the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” said Sam Zarifi, the ICJ’s Director for Asia and the Pacific. “The fact that this execution was based on a trial that was procedurally and substantively flawed is all the more regrettable and a perversion of justice.”

On 6 April 2015, the Supreme Court rejected Muhammad Kamaruzzaman’s petition for a review of his sentence.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has denounced the death sentence, noting that his review petition was summarily rejected without consideration on merits.

Government officials have reported that Muhammad Kamaruzzaman decided to not seek a presidential pardon for his sentence, following the rejection of his review petition.

After Abdul Qader Mollah in 2013, Kamaruzzaman is the second individual to be executed after being sentenced to death by the ICT.

“The ICJ supports the rights of all victims of the atrocities committed during the 1971 war for independence in Bangladesh to truth and justice. But the death penalty is not the answer,” Zarifi added. “Bangladesh should impose an official moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing it outright.”

The ICJ opposes capital punishment in all cases without exception. The death penalty constitutes a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

In December 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, for the fifth time since 2007, emphasizing that that the use of the death penalty undermines human dignity and calling on those countries that maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on its use with a view to its abolition.

A majority of 117 UN Member States voted in favor of a worldwide moratorium on executions as a step towards abolition of the death penalty, with only 37 opposed.


Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director (Bangkok), t: +66 807819002; email: sam.zarifi(a)

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