Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid should stay the imminent executions of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, the ICJ said today.
Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, were found guilty of crimes committed during the 1971 war for independence in Bangladesh by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in October 2013.
On 18 November 2015, the Supreme Court rejected their review petitions challenging their death sentences.
The only legal option available to them now is to seek a pardon from the President.
“The ICJ expresses its solidarity with the victims and survivors of the human rights violations committed during the 1971 war, and believes the perpetrators of these atrocities must be brought to justice,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director. “However, the death penalty, especially following a deeply flawed trial, amounts to nothing more than vengeance and does not serve the interests of justice.”
The ICJ has previously raised concerns that trials before the ICT do not comply with international standards for fair trials.
Following the two previous executions in Bangladesh resulting from convictions by the ICT to date (Muhammad Kamaruzzaman in April 2015 and Abdul Qader Mollah in December 2013), the ICJ raised concerns about the serious procedural flaws in the ICT 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.
UN agencies have also raised fair trial concerns with respect to how certain cases have been heard at the ICT.
Concerns have been raised with respect to Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid’s trials as well.
“There have been several problems about the fairness of the trials under the ICT,” Zarifi added.
“Instead of compounding injustice by executing people who have been found guilty through flawed trials, the Government of Bangladesh should commute these death sentences and abolish the death penalty.”
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.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director (Bangkok), t: +66 807819002; email: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal and sentenced to death in July 2013. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence in June 2015.
Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury was found guilty and sentenced to death in October 2013 for war crimes, including genocide. The Supreme Court on appeal upheld the decision in July 2015.
The ICJ calls on Bangladesh to impose an official moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to abolishing the death penalty outright.
In December 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, for the fifth time since 2007, emphasizing 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 towards its abolition.
117 UN Member States, a clear majority, voted in favor of a worldwide moratorium on executions as a step towards abolition of the death penalty.