Dhaka has weakened fair-trial safeguards: Amnesty

May 29th, 2008 - 3:16 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 29 (IANS) Bangladesh’s military-backed caretaker government has brought “politically motivated” charges against individuals and weakened fair-trial safeguards by setting up special courts, Amnesty International (AI) has said. The “Amnesty International Report 2008: State of the World’s Human Rights” released here Wednesday also says the police and army personnel have violated Bangladeshis’ human rights “with impunity”.

The report says Bangladesh fits into the larger global trend observed by AI, which also include suppressing dissent and promoting torture and ill-treatment to gather intelligence.

“Fair trial safeguards were weakened by the use of Special Courts which imposed tight restrictions on defendants’ access to lawyers, and by the denial of bail to defendants charged under emergency regulations,” reads the report on Bangladesh.

Such courts are trying the country’s two former prime ministers, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, and a large number of lawmakers and officials in different corruption cases.

According to the report, many were detained “arbitrarily” and held under emergency rules over the past year. “Some were then charged with politically motivated criminal offences,” says the report.

AI has accused the security forces, including the army, paramilitary forces and the police, of violating human rights with impunity through “torture and other ill-treatment and alleged extra-judicial executions”.

“Army personnel accused of human rights violations remained almost entirely outside the purview of civilian judicial accountability mechanisms,” reports AI.

AI secretary general Irene Khan wrote to Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed last November, urging him to launch an unrestricted enquiry into human rights violations by security forces.

During her visit earlier this year, Khan had been critical of the human rights violations, but had refrained from commenting on the trial of politicians and officials facing graft charges.

However, she had fully supported trial of those involved in the killings of civilians in 1971, when the then East Pakistan regime cracked down, using the militia of Islamist parties and groups.

Heading the list of those accused are top officials of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, who were ministers in the government of prime minister Khaleda Zia (2001-06).

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