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A National Tribunal of Bangladesh

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By way of background, it may be helpful to recall that the ICT-BD, a national Tribunal of Bangladesh, was constituted in March 2010 (Tribunal 1) and March 2012 (Tribunal 2), as per law, as independent, open and transparent Court. The Tribunals have the jurisdiction to try the commission or attempt, abetment or conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity such as murder, rape, torture etc., crimes against peace, genocide, war crimes, violation of humanitarian rules applicable in armed conflicts as enshrined in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and any other crimes under international law.

The ongoing trials of the accused persons are being conducted in open tribunals witnessed by the relatives of the accused, the media and independent observers to ensure full transparency to meet the requirements of fair trial in compliance with the standards invoked in other trials of international crimes committed around the globe and historically. The trial proceedings are being observed and monitored by the prosecutors and defense counsels and the accused persons through separate computer monitors set up for them in the court rooms. The Rules of Procedure of the Tribunals ensure due process and provide guarantee of all internationally recognized human rights standards for the accused as well as protection measures for victims and witnesses. The recent judgment provides a fairly comprehensive account of the relevant provisions of ICTA and its Rules that are in consonance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in particular.

The Judges of the Tribunals are fully independent in their conduct and have maintained utmost neutrality and transparency. Recently, the Chairman of Tribunal-1 resigned and the Tribunals were reconstituted according to law. According to the provision of ICTA, the proceedings of the cases are continuing in the aftermath of such reconstitution. The accused persons had the right to engage one or more counsels who should be enrolled as legal practitioners of the Bangladesh Bar Council. In case of absentia trial, the Tribunals have the authority to engage a State Counsel as per section 2 12 of ICTA. This has indeed been the case with the case that has just been disposed of, where the accused has been absconding. In case of another accused, there has been the unprecedented instance of the defence counsel cross-examining a prosecution witness for long 45 days.

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