Bangladeshi Tribunals Are Characterized By Vengeance, Not Justice

The author further neglects to mention that the widow of one of those victims whom Sayedee is said to have murdered had previously made statements of complaint in which she named those responsible for the crime, and yet at no time did she mention that Sayedee was responsible. This witness was not brought to court, despite the fact confirmation had been received that her whereabouts were known to the prosecution.

The points above are just two flaws in one isolated case. Curiously, no mention is made of the Skype recordings between a former presiding judge and third parties, members of the government and members of the prosecution which was published in November 2012 in the Economist, exposing the scope of the corruption that has been the defining hallmark of the tribunal since its inception. This was a revelation that received widespread attention, and prompted a chorus of international condemnation.

To recount all flaws apparent in just these two cases alone would result in this article being far too long for publication, however, the simple fact is that the tribunals have been condemned internationally by a wide ranging number of monitoring groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, various members of the UN and members of the U.S. administration. One of the responses of the Bangladeshi court was to issue contempt proceedings against the Human Rights Watch and an independent British journalist David Bergman.

As is noted at the outset of this article, it is wholly appropriate for the alleged perpetrators of such crimes to face a judicial process. However, without a credible process being implemented, without rules of evidence being properly adhered to, without a process being free from political interference, can that really be said to be justice?

What must happen now, is for the tribunals to be immediately halted. All those convicted thus far must have their convictions set aside. A new tribunal must be commissioned, a truly international tribunal with the relevant oversight and in a neutral third party country. This will then allow a credible process to be followed. Without this, the process at present, and the verdicts that follow, are nothing more than a hollow sham of justice. Further, such verdicts are not only an injustice to those accused, but an injustice to the memory of the victims and to their families who are not being given an opportunity for closure. The controversy surrounding the current tribunals will not heal old wounds – it will only serve to deepen them.