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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

Bangladesh: Execution of Two More War Crimes Convicts

(Nov. 25, 2015) On November 22, 2015, two opposition leaders in Bangladesh, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, were hanged simultaneously for war crimes after their clemency petitions were denied by the President of Bangladesh. (Bangladesh Executes Two Opposition Leaders for 1971 War Crimes, DAILY STAR (Nov. 21, 2014).)

According to recent news reports, the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh has convicted 24 people, most of whom are leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), the party that supported the military activities of the Pakistan army during the 1971 war for Bangladesh’s independence. (David Bergman, Bangladesh’s War Crimes Tribunal Under Fire from Human Rights Group for “Flawed” Trials but Government Hits Back, INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE TRIBUNE (Nov. 10, 2015).)

Salauddin was one of the senior-most leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. He was sentenced to death by a war crimes tribunal in October 2013.  Charges against him included genocide, arson and persecuting people on religious and political grounds.  (For India, Bangladesh Executions Internal Matter, BDNEWS24 (Nov. 11, 2015).) 

Mujahid was the Minister of Social Welfare in the Bangladesh National Party-led coalition Cabinet with Jamaat in 2001. The charges against him included the massacre of intellectuals and involvement in the murder and torture of Hindus. (Supreme Court Confirms Pro-Pakistan Militia Commander Mujahid’s Death Penalty for Bangladesh War Crimes, BDNEWS24 (June 16, 2015).)

Both Chowdhury and Mujahid had denied all the charges against them, but the Supreme Court of Bangladesh upheld their sentences earlier this month.  Bangladesh has now executed a total of four war crimes convicts. (Bangladesh Executes Two War Criminals, INDIA.COM (Nov. 22, 2015).)  Abdul Kader Mollah, also a Jamaat leader, was the first war crimes convict to walk to the gallows; he was executed in 2013. (Shameema Rahman, Bangladesh: First Execution of War Criminal Convicted by International Crimes Tribunal, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Jan. 9, 2014).)

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United Nations: Security Council Resolution on Terrorism in France

(Nov. 24, 2015) On November 20, 2015, in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in France, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution No. 2249/2015, in which it condemned the terrorist attacks of November 2015 in France committed by ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Syria (ISIL or ISIS)), also known as Da’esh. (Press Release, United Nations, Security Council “Unequivocally” Condemns ISIL Terrorist Attacks, Unanimously Adopting Text that Determines Extremist Group Poses “Unprecedented” Threat (Nov. 20, 2015).)

The Resolution reiterated that unless a political solution is found for the Syrian conflict, the situation will deteriorate. (Id.)

The Resolution:

  • condemns the November 2015 events in France as well as previous terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL that occurred on June 26, 2015, in Sousse (Tunisia), on October 10, in Ankara, on October 31 over Sinaï, on November 12 in Beirut, and all other attacks committed by ISIL, such as hostage-taking and killing, and states that it considers all these terrorist acts a threat to peace and security;
  • states that any action against ISIL must be in compliance with the U.N. Charter, international humanitarian law, and human rights law;
  • reaffirms that those who have committed such terrorist acts, or violations of human rights or humanitarian law, must be held accountable;
  • calls on the U.N. Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks committed in the territory under the control of ISIL in Syria and Iraq by ISIL or other terrorist groups or businesses associated with Al Qaeda, or by other terrorist groups included on the U.N. Sanctions List; and
  • urges the Member States to increase their efforts to prevent foreign terrorist fighters from going to Syria and Iraq and to prevent the financing of terrorism. (Id.)

The U.N. Sanctions List includes all the names of individuals and companies that are subject to sanctions imposed by the Security Council. (Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List (last updated Nov. 12, 2015) U.N. website.)

Following the vote in the UNSC, the representative of France stated that the Security Council, through the adoption of this resolution, “unanimously recognized the exceptional nature of the threat, and had called on all Member States to eradicate Da’esh sanctuaries and push back its ideology.” He also emphasized that any collective action against ISIL would be based on article 51 of the U.N. Charter on the right to self-defense and that France had also requested and obtained the activation of the mutual solidarity clause of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. (Id.)

Article 51 contains the right to self-defense by individual or collective action if an armed attack occurs in the territory of a Member State. (Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice, art. 51 (1945) UNITED NATIONS TREATY COLLECTION.) The EU mutual solidarity clause states that if a Member State is the victim of a terrorist attack or of a natural or man-made disaster, the EU and its Member States are required to act jointly in a spirit of solidarity to assist that Member State following a request made by its political authorities. In such a case, the EU is required to mobilize all the instruments at its disposal, including the military resources made available by the Member States, for the purpose of : (a) preventing the terrorist threat in the territory of the Member States; and (b) protecting democratic institutions and the civilian population from any terrorist attack. (Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, art. 222, ¶ 1 (2012) O.J. (C 326) 47, EUR-LEX.)

The Representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N. expressed support for France and added that Russia agrees with the language included in the Resolution to the effect that the basis for the fight against ISIL must be the U.N. Charter. (Id.) The Representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of his country and not as the President of the Security Council, emphasized that “this resolution is a powerful, international recognition of the threat ISIL poses,” and that “this resolution reminds us that measures must be implemented if the international response is to succeed.” (Security Council “Unequivocally” Condemns ISIL Terrorist Attacks, Unanimously Adopting Text that Determines Extremist Group Poses “Unprecedented” Threat, supra.)


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France: Police to Be Required to Wear Body Cameras

(Nov. 24, 2015) On October 26, 2015, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that police officers would soon be required to wear body cameras as part of their standard equipment. (Pierre de Cossette, Police: le port des “caméras piétons” généralisé [Police: The Wearing of “Body Cameras” to Become Routine], EUROPE 1 (Oct. 26, 2015).) Up to 4,500 cameras will be ordered for that purpose.  (Id.)  The measure is touted as a way not only to prevent police misconduct and racial profiling, but also to protect police officers from challenges to their accounts of interactions with individuals and from violence.  (Des caméras-piétons pour les forces de l’ordre, ça sert à quoi? [What Is the Purpose of Body Cameras for Police Forces?], L’EXPRESS (Oct. 26, 2015).)

Body cameras have been used in France on an experimental basis for the last three years. (de Cossette, supra.)  The experiment has been considered successful in reducing tensions between police officers and the public.  (Id.)  It appears that at least part of this tension-reducing effect comes from the fact that the cameras include a small screen that faces the individual interacting with the police officer.  The individual is therefore aware that he/she is being filmed and that the footage may be held as potential evidence against him/her.  (Id.)

The new measure seems to be largely welcomed by police officers, according to news reports. (Willy Le Devin, Police: feu orange pour les caméras-piéton [Police: Orange Light for Body Cameras], LIBÉRATION (Nov. 12, 2015).) There has been some criticism of the practice from anti-discrimination advocacy groups, however.  Objections have been raised to the fact that, under the government’s current plan on the use of the equipment, police officers can turn the cameras on and off at their sole discretion.  (Id.)  The plan also raises privacy concerns and questions of when and how citizens will be able to access recorded footage of their interactions with the police.  (Id.)

Making body cameras part of the standard equipment of police officers will require the adoption of a legislative framework for it. Reportedly, the measure will probably be part of new legislation to be discussed by the French Parliament in early 2016.  (Des caméras-piétons pour les forces de l’ordre, ça sert à quoi?, supra.)

This article was prepared with the assistance of Law Library of Congress Intern Chloé Gillenwater.

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Georgia: Constitutional Court Rules Against Part of De-Communization Law

(Nov. 23, 2015) On October 28, 2015, the Constitutional Court of Georgia declared unconstitutional and void several provisions of article 9 of the Freedom Charter, which had permanently banned former senior Soviet officials from holding important public offices with central and regional government, judiciary, police, military, and academia. (Constitutional Court of Georgia, Nodar Mumlauri v. Parliament of Georgia, Ruling No. 2/5/60 of October 28, 2015, MATSNE.GOV.GE (government law portal) (Nov. 17, 2015)  (in Georgian); Freedom Charter, Law of Georgia No. 147 of May 31, 2011, MATSNE.GOV.GE (June 22, 2011) (in Georgian).)

The plaintiff, Nodar Mumlauri, had been a leader of Georgia’s Communist Youth League during the Soviet period and later worked as the party secretary of Telavi District, one of the country’s administrative units. In June 2013, he ran for the office of Telavi District governor but was removed from the ballot and later told thatthe Freedom Charter mandated his exclusion.  (Constitutional Court of Georgia Permitted Former Soviet Bureaucrats to Occupy State Offices, GEORGIA ONLINE (Nov. 3, 2015) (in Russian).) The Constitutional Court agreed with the plaintiff that the permanent ban on select professional activities violates article 17 of the Georgian Constitution, which protects Georgian citizens’ right to honor and dignity.  (Constitution of Georgia (Aug. 24, 1995, as last amended Oct. 4, 2013), MATSNE.GOV.GE.)

The Freedom Charter was enacted in 2011 and outlawed the display of Soviet symbols (art. 7), introduced anti-terrorist measures (arts. 4-6), and established a system of lustration (arts. 8-11) that permanently barred former senior Soviet officials and Georgian citizens who had collaborated with Soviet special intelligence services from holding important public offices, without, however, publishing their names. (Peter Roudik, Georgia: Ban on Soviet Symbols Proposed, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 8, 2010).) Reportedly, these restrictions affected about 100,000 people, of whom only 15,000 are still alive.  (Ban on Public Service for Former Party Officials Is Lifted in Georgia, VZGLIAD (Nov. 3, 2015) (in Russian).)

Prepared by Nerses Isajanyan, Foreign Law Consultant, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.

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