The ICJ denounces the death penalty handed down today by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) to Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the main opposition party.
If carried out, the sentence would violate Bangladesh’s international law obligations to protect the right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment, the ICJ states.
The International Crimes Tribunal convicted Chowdhury (photo) on nine of 23 charges, including murder and genocide, and sentenced him to death.
“The Bangladesh Tribunal is one of very few transitional justice mechanisms that have imposed the death penalty,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia-Pacific Director. “It is unfortunate that Bangladesh seeks to punish human rights violations by committing rights violations itself.”
The ICJ considers the death penalty in all cases to constitute a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
This is the seventh verdict delivered by the International Crimes Tribunal. Death sentences have been handed out in all but one case.
”Bangladeshi law as well as international human rights standards require that death penalty cases receive a fair and thorough review, so it is crucial that appellate review of these cases proceed properly, without undue political pressure or a timeline established by impending elections in or before January 2014,” Zarifi said.
“Those responsible for the horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971 should be brought to justice in processes that are fair, and seen to be fair, instead of being subjected to vengeance,” he added.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, (Bangkok), t:+66 807819002; email: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org