HRW contempt charge hearing Thursday

Ref: The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) said a hearing in the contempt of court charge brought against HRW (Human Rights Watch) for commenting on the trial of Jamaat-e-Islami former ameer and war crimes convict Ghulam Azam would be held Thursday.
ICT-1 fixed the hearing date Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, HRW was charged with contempt of court for terming Jamaat-e-Islami former ameer and war crimes convict Ghulam Azam verdict ‘deeply flawed’.

The prosecution brought charges against the US-based rights body with the International Crimes Tribunal.

HRW on 16 August issued a statement claiming the trial of Azam was deeply flawed and did not meet international fair trial standards.

“Human Rights Watch has long supported the efforts to deliver accountability for the atrocities committed during the 1971 war, and to ensuring meaningful justice to victims and survivors, through fair trials which meet international standards,” Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW, said in the statement.

“We sounded the alarm that the law and trial process were deficient, but the government ignored the warnings. The government has got the conviction it wanted, but it has failed to ensure a fair trial that settles once and for all whether Ghulam Azam was guilty.”

Among the most serious problems, the statement continued, is the fact that the judges stated that they conducted an investigation to make up for deficiencies in the case presented by the prosecution. Judges in Bangladesh are only empowered to examine the evidence placed in front of them by the parties to the case.

The defense counsel was not aware of this investigation and was thus unable to comment on or challenge the evidence obtained by the judges, which constitutes a serious violation of article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a party.

The investigation calls into serious question the impartiality of the court, HRW said.

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