Sunday, December 5

UN experts urge halt on Kamaruzzaman execution


Star file photo of death sentenced Kamaruzzaman, a Jamaat leader and former key organiser of infamous Al-Badr force
  Two United Nations human rights experts today urged the Bangladesh government to stay the execution of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman who has been handed death penalty for crimes committed against humanity during Liberation War in 1971.

UN special rapporteurs on summary executions, Christof Heyns, and on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, expressed serious concern on reports that Kamaruzzaman could be executed as early as November 6 midnight.

In a press release issued today, Heyns and Knaul said that capital punishment “may be imposed only following a trial that complied with the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process.”

On Monday, the apex court upheld the death penalty for Kamaruzzaman, a key organiser of the infamous Al-Badr Bahini responsible for abducting, torturing and killing freedom fighters, intellectuals and pro-liberation people in 1971.

Bangladesh government has said that Kamaruzzaman can be executed on the basis of an order of the Supreme Court unless anything otherwise is stated in its full verdict.

The Dhaka central jail has already been asked to prepare for the execution of Kamaruzzaman.

However, the confusion over whether Kamaruzzaman has the right to seek a review was still unclear, but, both prosecution and defence said the perplexity would come to pass as soon as the full verdict of the apex court is available.

Kamaruzzaman’s defence counsel alleged it would be illegal to execute the Jamaat leader before the full verdict of the Supreme Court and hoped that the government would wait for the full verdict before execution.

Law Minister Anisul Haque has said that Kamaruzzaman will get seven days time, from the day he heard his death verdict handed by the SC, to plead for presidential mercy. Otherwise, he will be executed immediately.

The UN human rights experts have on several occasions expressed alarm regarding serious violations of fair trial and due process guarantees in the judicial proceedings before the Tribunal that were reported to them, the press release said.

“A person sentenced to death must also have the right to seek pardon or commutation of his sentence,” Heyns and Knaul stressed in the presser.

The UN Special Rapporteurs also reiterated their calls that all the defendants before the International Crimes Tribunal, including the Appellate Division, receive fair trials.