Justice or Charade in Dhaka?
Almost two years after its establishment in March 2009, the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) is moving forward slowly, accompanied by strong support from victims groups and local human rights activists, but amidst significant concern over the laws which govern the process. Government representatives have repeatedly given commitments that the forthcoming trials will be credible and fair. However, international experts continue to raise concerns that the applicable legal regime falls short of compliance with international standards.
The ICT is charged with holding to account those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace during Bangladesh’s “Liberation War” with Pakistan. This conflict, which led to Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971, involved atrocities including massacres, torture, disappearances, sexual violence and displacements. Unconfirmed reports estimate that around 3 million people were killed and over 200,000 women raped. The ICT, created 40 years later, as part of a campaign promise by the ruling Awami League, is charged with finally bringing those responsible to account.
The initiative behind the ICT has received praise and calls for support from victims’ groups within Bangladesh as well as international jurists.