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International Criminal Tribunal — Bangladesh

The International Criminal Tribunal for Bangladesh is prosecuting alleged war crimes from 1971 during Bangladesh’s war for independence from Pakistan. Approximately three million people were killed, hundreds of thousands of women were raped, and millions of people were displaced. (Brown, p. 1) This tribunal seems more tainted than most modern international criminal tribunals. The Economist noted that the tribunal is “sullying its judicial and political systems,” due to a lack of due process protections that were present in other war crimes prosecutions, such as Israel’s prosecution of Adolph Eichmann. It alleged that Bangladesh is poisoning the well at which it may wish to drink some day. At Nuremberg, Justice Robert Jackson had said that “[t]o pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well,” to emphasize the need for due process and justice at the tribunal over which he presided.

Nonetheless, the tribunal’s efforts seem popular among the Bangladeshi people, even as penalties range from life imprisonment to the death penalty for some of the defendants. The Supreme Court allowed the execution of Abdul Qader Mollah (convicted of war crimes by the ICT) to proceed last December, prompting concerns about political upheaval and possible violence.

This quick guide provides selected recent articles about the topic, as well as several books and articles published at or near the time of the conflict.

Recent Resources

Kimberly Marie Brown. Four Decades Later, Justice in Bangladesh (2012)

Bangladesh’s War Crimes Trials (Economist)

Chairman of Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal Resigned (Economist)

ICT Bangladesh (Wikipedia)

A blog on Bangladesh war crimes

Books

The Events in East Pakistan, 1971. The Secretariat of the International Commission of Jurists, 1972. OhioLINK

David Loshak. Pakistan Crisis. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971. OhioLINK

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The Great Tragedy. Pakistan People’s Party, 1971 WorldCat

L.F. Rushbrook Williams. The East Pakistan Tragedy. Drake, 1972. OhioLINK

Anthony Mascarenhas. The Rape of Bangla Desh. Vikas Publicatins, 1971. OhioLINK

Pakistan. White Paper on the Crisis in East Pakistan. Karachi, 1971. OhioLINK

Bangla Desh Documents. New Delhi, 1971-1972. OhioLINK

Articles

Jordan J. Paust and Albert P. Blaustein. War Crimes Jurisdiction and Due Process: The Bangladesh Experience. 11 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 1 (1978).

Donald N. Zillman. Prisoners in the Bangladesh War: Humanitarian Concerns and Political Demands. 8 Int’l Law. 124 (1974).

Niall Macdermot. Crimes Against Humanity in Bangladesh. 7 Int’l Law. 476 (1973).

Ved P. Nanda. A Critique of the United Nations Inaction in the Bangladesh Crisis. 49 Denv. L.J. 53 (1972).