Position Paper on US War Crimes Ambassador Stephen Rapp’s Suggestions regarding ICT

On 15 May 2011, ICSF released its position paper on the suggestions of US War Crimes Ambassador Stephen Rapp delivered to the Government of Bangladesh regarding the ICT and its governing statute the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973. It has been prepared by the Legal Research Team of ICSF, one of the 21 such teams of this network that are currently engaged in assisting the justice initiative in Bangladesh.

Full text of the paper is available for downloaded from this E-Library Link. An abridged and unreferenced version of the paper has been published on on 22 May as an elaborate opinion piece which is accessible here.

Focussing mainly on the suggestions of Mr Rapp addressed to the Government in a letter dated 21 March, the paper critically evaluates Ambassador Rapp’s suggestions on ICT and ICTA, assesses the conceptual validity of his legal analysis and presents the doctrinal and conceptual positions that should correctly apply to the ICT on the issues raised. It reads:

The rationale behind this paper is based on the realization that criticisms of the ongoing war crimes trial process in Bangladesh in the form of suggestions, especially when exposed before the public domain, must be based on correct factual and legal premises. The citizens of the People‟s Republic of Bangladesh, as well as the international community at large, deserve to be made aware of the issues that are pertinent to fairness in the justice process. At the same time, criticisms or suggestions from any quarter need to be fair, well-informed, and carefully construed so they are not based consciously or unconsciously upon misconceptions about a justice process that is purely domestic in every sense.

Acknowledging the necessity of civic engagement among the stakeholders, the standard of trial in terms of fairness and due process, the paper calls for balanced approach and correct understanding of the key conceptual issues relevant to the ICT in order to uphold justice in the end. It observes:

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to ensure that the proceedings against persons alleged to have committed crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICT are carried out in a manner that is free and fair. However, it is also important to ensure that the justice process initiated by the ICTA and the ICT does not become a victim to misconceived and unrealistic demands. What must be remembered is that the objective of the justice process that the Bangladesh Government has decided to carry out has the underlying goal of ensuring justice to the countless victims during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 so much so that the democratic aspirations of the people of Bangladesh are established, a death blow is given to impunity and finally a milestone step is taken towards the establishment of the rule of law.

It is a must read document for anyone interested in the ICT and its justice process.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article or in the comment section are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF).

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