The imprisonment of six suspects at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh is excessive, according to the UN.
By Josephine Uwineza,
The ICT has drawn widespread criticism for failing to meet international legal standards. The UN working group on Arbitrary Detention has now added its voice to that growing chorus.
It examined the cases of Motiur Rahman Nizami (former Minister of Agriculture), Abdul Quader Molla, Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, Ali Hassan Mijahid, Allama Delewar Sayedee and Salbuddin Chowdhry, and found their detention to be in violation of human rights.
The six men applied for bail on 21 April 2011, on the grounds that they were being arbitrarily detained without charge during pretrial proceedings.
At this time, they submitted voluntarily to the conditions laid down by the court, and were required to surrender their passports to the authorities. Travel was only possible with prior permission. However, their bail was denied.
The UN working group also found that allegations made by the prosecutor against the 6 individuals to be vague and were not communicated to the defendants.
ICT - worst offender?
Provisional release issues have always been a bone of contention between prosecutors and lawyers in international justice.
The UN working group maintains in its report that “detention prior to conviction should be the exception rather than a rule”. But some observers argue that Dhaka is being unfairly criticized.
The worst offender in this respect is the ICTR in Arusha which has detained some of its suspects for more than 10 years.
“The UN condemns poor countries with limited means while their own institutions with greater budgets fail to meet fair trial standards” said Richard Rogers – former head of the defence at the ECCC. “The context of this report is important, it is entirely based on defence arguments since the Bangladeshi government did not respond”, he said.
At the ECCC in Cambodia, Ieng Thirith was found unfit for trial in November 2011. The appeals chamber reversed this decision, saying the 86 year old woman’s health could improve during the proceedings. “It is strange that the ICT is being accused by the UN – a body that violates its own rules”, he told RNW.