The execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami today is a deplorable move by the Bangladeshi authorities which will not deliver justice to the victims of war crimes, Amnesty International said today. Nizami, the current chief of Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail today. He was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh in October 2014 after he was convicted of charges relating murder, torture, rape and the mass killing of intellectuals during Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971.
“We are dismayed that Bangladeshi authorities have executed Motiur Rahman Nizami. The victims of the horrific events of the 1971 Liberation War are entitled to justice, but taking another life is not the answer,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director of the South Asia Regional Office
“The death penalty is always a human rights violation, but its use is even more troubling when the execution follows a flawed process. There are serious questions about the fairness of Motiur Rahman Nizami’s trial – and of proceedings before the ICT more generally – that have not been addressed. Victims of past atrocities deserve better than a flawed process.
“We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to join most of the world by turning its back on this cruel and irreversible punishment, and impose a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty with a view to its eventual repeal.”
The government has a duty to ensure accountability for war crimes, and it is positive that the Bangladeshi authorities are taking steps in this direction. But many credible organizations including Amnesty International and the UN have raised serious and important issues around the fairness of the ICT trials which have not been addressed.
“Today’s decision comes at a politically sensitive time for Bangladesh, and all sides must ensure calm prevails across the country. Security forces should ensure that the right to peaceful protest is respected, while political leaders on all sides should call on their supporters to refrain from human rights abuses,” said Patel.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.
At least 197 people were sentenced to death in Bangladesh in 2015, including four people sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT). Bangladesh carried out four executions in 2015, three of whom were sentenced by the ICT.
The ICT is a Bangladeshi court set up by the government in 2010 to investigate mass scale human rights violations committed during the Bangladeshi 1971 Independence War. Amnesty International welcomed the government’s move to bring those responsible to justice, but insisted that the accused should receive fair trials without recourse to the death penalty. The proceedings of the tribunal in previous cases were marked with severe irregularities and violations of the right to a fair trial.
During Nizami’s trial the prosecution was allowed to call on 22 witnesses, while the defense was arbitrarily limited to only four. According to Nizami’s legal team, the defense was also prevented cross-examining a key prosecution witness. The defense team was also only given three weeks to prepare for trial, while the prosecution were granted 22 months to conduct their investigation.