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Bangladesh: Trial of War Criminals Planned

(June 29, 2009) On January 29, 2009, Bangladesh's Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the government to try war criminals for crimes committed during the country's 1971 War of Liberation. On March 25, 2009, the government decided to try alleged war criminals under the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973 (Law No. 19 of 1973, BANGLADESH GAZETTE (Extra Edition) (July 20, 1973)). The government has started the investigation process and recently took steps to hold trials in about a month.

The 1973 Act provides for establishing special tribunals, appointing a chief prosecutor and other prosecutors, and creating an agency to investigate war crimes. As required by the law, the government has taken steps to set up an investigative agency headed by a retired justice of the High Court, or an equivalent person,,to the position of Court Martial General. The agency may include officials from intelligence agencies, the police, the Home Ministry, and the Law Ministry, as well as members of civil society organizations and war crimes experts. The agency will seek to identify war criminals, will collect evidence, and will investigate complaints. The agency may file cases with local police stations against accused war criminals and will be responsible for providing necessary documents to the special tribunals.

According to a recent news release, the government has prepared a preliminary list of 54 war criminals and has asked the concerned authorities to prepare a comprehensive list. The law provides for the right of the accused to appeal against the verdict of the special tribunals to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. (Deepak Acharjee, War Crimes Trial Will Start in a Month: Law Minister, THE INDEPENDENT, June 4, 2009, available at