The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) has today called for the government of Bangladesh to halt the ongoing prosecution of Motiur Rahman Nizami, the leader of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party facing imminent execution.
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh yesterday rejected Nizami’s final petition for a review of his case, and the Attorney General has stated that the date for execution will be set unless any final plea for clemency is presented to the President. Concerns had been raised already by the BHRC over the Supreme Court of Bangladesh’s first decision in January 2016 to uphold Mr Nizami’s convictions and sentence.
Motiur Nizami was convicted and sentenced to death in 2014 by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT). BHRC has previously highlighted serious institutional failings of the ICT, including:
- A lack of judicial independence
- Witness interference and disappearance
- Arbitrary limitations on evidence and the ability to cross-examine witnesses
- Inadequate access to legal advice
- Failure to safeguard the presumption of innocence
Speaking on behalf of BHRC, Schona Jolly said:
“The right to a fair trial is crucial in all cases, but when someone is facing the death penalty it is even more critical that Governments observe due process and international law.
The BHRC, amongst other human rights organisations and experts, has highlighted serious failings in many of the proceedings before the ICT, including in the trial and appeal of Motiur Nizami.
Faced with the cycle of violent demonstrations and fatalities in Bangladesh that followed earlier executions after ICT convictions, the need for the legal system to ensure the highest standards of fairness remains of paramount importance.
The BHRC again calls for all proceedings before and arising from the ICT, as well as all executions, to be halted pending a full and independent investigation of these concerns.
Accountability is crucial, but justice and truth for the victims of the atrocities suffered in Bangladesh cannot be achieved without the highest standards of due process and the full respect of international law.”