Response to Toby Cadman’s Facebook Response

This note is in response to a particular status of Toby Cadman which has been brought to my attention today. [here]. Through this status, Mr Cadman responded to an article I wrote on his role in defending Jamaat-E-Islami stalwarts currently being prosecuted at the International Crimes Tribunal (Toby Cadman: a Crusader for Rights or Devil’s Advocate? December 3 2012). The status raises quite a few points which I thought merited some measure of response.

Confusion with Title: Really?

I don’t know why Mr Cadman found it difficult to fathom what meaning I was trying to attribute to the phrases ‘devil’s advocate’ and ‘crusader for rights’ vis-à-vis his role. I am equally perplexed at the long definitions supplied from a dictionary. Surely, Mr Cadman should be aware these were not meant to be taken literally and should have been construed purposively. The objective of the title was clear enough: I invited the readers to asses for themselves, after knowing in details about his campaign, whether Mr Cadman is actually concerned about due processes and human rights at the ICT or simply throwing whatever he has at this trial process in order discredit it and save the skins of his notorious clients. The points that I raised and elaborated upon in my article unfortunately, points to the distinct possibility of the latter. Had I known Mr Cadman would have such difficulty in interpreting the meaning of the title, I would have chosen something simple, say: “Toby Cadman: Drawing the line between advocacy and lobbying/activism”.

Mr Cadman has also taken the chance to lecture me on the issue of cab –rank rule, whereby barristers are obligated to receive instructions if it falls within their professional sphere of practice and is for a proper fee. They cannot decline or return instructions simply because they find the views or ideology of the client/s loathsome. However, I fail to see the connection here. Nobody is criticizing Mr Cadman for defending Jamaat-E-Islami clients per se, but rather the criticisms relate to the manner in which he is conducting the defence of such clients. My article touches on a number of areas where the manner of conducting the defence has been questionable to say the least [].

Mr Cadman’s Explanations for Not Replying & My Comments

The reasons Mr Cadman has furnished justifying his no-response to my article are: a) He had other more important commitments; b) It was in any event, a pointless debate in his opinion.

I find that hard to believe. One only needs to have a look at his activities on social media to know that representing Jamaat-E-Islami defendants (and criticizing the current Bangladesh government! and ICT) is currently his most important professional engagement. You don’t have to take my word for it. I am quoting Mr Cadman from his most recent scathing piece on Bangladesh and our war crimes trials

“…I realised during this brief visit the enormity of my role. It was to save the leaders of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political party with conservative Islamic views not favoured by the west. I remarked to one of my colleagues that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for a young lawyer; I was not wrong….”

[Toby Cadman, “Bangladesh justice: damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, 5 March 2013. link].

Therefore, when he says he had more important things to do than respond to my accusations regarding his questionable role in these trials or that the debate is pointless is nothing but a very naked attempt to evade the discussion in question. I submit that the reason he didn’t respond is because he had no worthwhile explanations to offer or none that he believed would stand up to scrutiny. I neither made any sweeping generalizations, nor raise any false or baseless accusations. Every point I made was backed up with factual evidence of his words and/or actions, and referenced accordingly.

Para 303 of Code of Conduct for Barristers

Mr Cadman has identified Paragraph 303 from the Code of Conduct to justify his words and/or actions since the said para stresses that client’s interests must be promoted and protected fearlessly. However, the para further states ‘using all proper and lawful means’. Thus, a barrister is not obligated, or even empowered, to use ‘any means necessary’ but only lawful AND proper means to defend his client/s. Here, lawful and proper are not meant as synonymous. Thus, what is lawful is not necessarily proper at all times. Thus, Mr Cadman’s actions, even if lawful in his eyes, are not proper in my eyes. He has conducted himself improperly in protecting his client’s interests; it is as simple as that. I welcome readers to have a look at my article on him and assess whether this ‘impropriety’ I claim is apparent or not from his activities. []

Since, Mr Cadman has brought the Code of Conduct for Barristers into the fore, here are some provisions of the Code that I feel are very relevant to the discussion regarding his role as a barrister outlined in my article: Para 301, Para 307, Para 701, Para 708, Para 709, Para 710 etc [Full text of Code can be accessed here]

If Mr Cadman fails to see the relevance of the aforementioned provisions, I would be happy to write another article elaborating how indeed they are very relevant.


It would not be wrong to say that, deliberately or not, Toby Cadman has been an active agent of a very successful international smear campaign against the ICT that Jamaat-E-Islami and its associates have been orchestrating worldwide since the very inception of this process. From the outset, Jamaat-E-Islami knew that convictions for their leaders are virtually certain given the overwhelming historical and factual evidence against them and the universal acceptability of their culpability. Hence, the only conceivable defence tactic was to obstruct the trial process itself by mounting effective and strategic international pressure on the Bangladesh government from donor agencies, influential nations and rights organisations. It was a strategy which worked well for the Pakistani POWs accused of war crimes and Jamaat collaborators in the 70s to evade the grips of justice. The same strategy has re-emerged from 2010.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed, or the assumptions made within the analysis in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF).

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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