Not justified to charge Jamaat

London: Toby Cadman, the international advisor of Bangladesh Jamat-Islami legal team said that, It is unprecedented that a group or organisation (howsoever defined) should attract collective criminal liability under international criminal and humanitarian law as a single entity. There is no scope for this under customary international law and certainly no provision for it in the current Statutes of the various international ad hoc tribunals or in the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
It has been suggested by unidentified sources that the ICT prosecutors (i.e. on behalf of the Government) are basing their argument on the view that a number of groups, including the Nazi party, were put on trial at Nuremberg following the end of the Second World War.
Mr Cadman also said that, reports emanating from a prominent Bangladeshi online news website that the Investigative Agency of the International Crimes Tribunal has submitted a report to the Prosecutor with a view to putting on trial the recently ‘de-registered’ political party Jamaat-e-Islami, raises considerable concern.
It remains unclear at this stage precisely what is meant by charging the party, by itself, with crimes against humanity and whether this, by default, would encompass possible criminal liability for its members and/or former members simply by membership or political association with Jamaat. It is worth noting here that many of Jamaat’s current members were not even born until after the 1971 conflict had ended and many more did not join until well after the end of the conflict. It is also particularly disturbing that many individuals that fought for liberation and thereby may be termed ‘freedom fighters’ now make up a quote of Jamaat’s membership. It is unclear how such persons would fall foul of the Government’s intent to target any person associated with Jamaat. It does however raise concerns that the Government of Bangladesh is now apparently seeking to take a further step following the widely condemned ‘sham’ trials before the ICT which have been internationally discredited as fundamentally unfair and rife with political interference and judicial corruption.
It is important to note at this stage that Jamaat-e-Islami took the political decision to oppose division and advocated for a unified Islamic Republic. It did not engage in, nor does it condone crimes committed by both sides during the nine-month conflict. It recognises that the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign nation and that whatever political position was taken in 1971 it does not impact on its support for Bangladesh to develop as a nation.
Mr. cadman also stated that unless what we see happening in Egypt now and, it seems, soon to be repeated in Bangladesh, a state’s obligations under international human rights conventions will count for very little – unless action is taken by the international community against those states to reinforce the international community’s commitment to safeguard fundamental human rights for all persons. There must be no exceptions.

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