LWM Global Virtual Conference
Commemorating Past Genocides and Learning to Prevent Atrocity Crimes
12 March 2021
Understanding the Barriers through Transitional Justice lens to Ensure Justice: The Experience of Bangladesh and Beyond
Friday 12 March, 3.30 PM (BD Time) (GMT+6)
Session 11: Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/84395230491
Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP), a brain-child of Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Professor of Law of University of Dhaka and Former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, is a human rights NGO of Bangladesh which has pioneered itself in creating anti-generic lawyering in South Asia through its projects. Since 1999 it has been organizing Human Rights Summer School for the law students of South Asian institutions and beyond. ELCOP has introduced Street Law in Bangladesh and has trained around 6000 school students on every day law. It has been studying the socio-legal status of marginalized communities of Bangladesh through its Community Law Reform Project. ELCOP is also providing human rights training to community leaders and human rights activists and advocates. ELCOP is the receiver of 2018 ‘South Asian Excellence in Legal Education Award’ which was jointly awarded by Society of Indian Law Firms and Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training.
|Name of the Speakers||Short Bio||Title and Abstract|
|Dr. S M Masum Billah||S M Masum Billah teaches Law at Jagannath University, Dhaka. He did his doctoral from the Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington. An alumnus of Rajshahi University, Dr Billah was a short-term Visiting Fellow at the SARCPL, Stellenbosch University, South Africa in 2019. He is the author of ainer vab o ovab (the art and inert of law). He also acts as the Director of Human Rights Summer School (HRSS), a regular flagship program of ELCOP. Billah has spoken and written about the formation and functioning of the ICT-BD at different national and international forums including the CUPL Beijing and National University Singapore.||The Defence of Alibi: International Practice and the Approach of the ICT-BD in Applying It
In 2010, Bangladesh started prosecuting the perpetrators of multi-scale crimes committed during its 1971 Liberation War. The persons charged mainly were members of collaborating groups to the Pakistan Army in that war. This prosecution is an outcome of a long drawn political and legal battle since 1971. For many reasons, the Bangladesh war trial embraces political ramifications. However, it has important legal implications for international criminal law as well, as the Bangladesh trial applied in a domestic setting several emerging principles of international criminal law.
Under the 1973 Bangladesh statute, the domestically arranged tribunals and courts have so far rendered 42 verdicts confirming capital punishment in majority of the cases. The critics have raised several concerns regarding the conduct of the trail. In addition to critiquing the practice of death sentence, they allege that the compromise of the internationally set standard of fairness (Robertson, 2014). The question then arises: what ‘fair’ amounts to ‘fairness’ in the war trail process, in particular, for a domestic jurisdiction like Bangladesh having distinctive socio-cultural and political history?
I will speak on this fairness issue. In particular, I will look at the practice of alibi in understanding the issue of fairness. For, in the majority of the cases decided so far by the Bangladesh Courts, the defence had raised the plea of alibi. In addressing the criticisms made, I will examine some leading war trial cases of Bangladesh to see the extent to which the Bangladesh Courts have confirmed the international practice of the alibi plea.
|Vera Piovesan||Vera Piovesan is a PhD candidate in international law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. Her doctoral research focuses on the cultural defence in international criminal trials. Vera holds a master’s degree in international law from the Graduate Institute and a combined bachelor and master’s degree in law from Bocconi University, Milan. She has completed study and research stays at Harvard Law School, UCLA School of Law, and the University of Otago.|
Vera has worked in various capacities at the Global Migration Centre, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, and the International Criminal Court.
Gender-based Persecution. The Case of Al Hassan at the ICC
Article 7(1)(h) of the Rome Statute lists persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on gender grounds as a crime against humanity. It is the first instrument to do so in the history of international criminal law. Accordingly, the current trial in the case of Al Hassan marks the first time that this crime has been charged and confirmed since the entry into force of the Statute.
The presentation will briefly go over the context of charges against Al Hassan and will then use this case to discuss two specific issues. First, it will touch upon the concept of gender. Indeed, the Office of the Prosecutor has in recent years espoused a definition of gender as a social construct, i.e. not limited to biological determinations, notwithstanding the more limited, and vague, definition adopted in the Statute. Second, the presentation will address the intersectionality of discriminatory grounds, such as, in the Al Hassan case, of gender, religion, and race. Finally, the presentation will conclude with a brief overview of prospective implications of the Al Hassan decision, especially in relation to the interpretation of the concept of gender that the Court will ultimately adopt.
Advocate Zead-al MalumAdvocate Malum is a freedom fighter of Bangladesh. He has been working as a Prosecutor (Additional Attorney General of Bangladesh) of the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh since 2010.
The International Recognition of 1971 Genocide in Bangladesh: Role of ICT BD
Bangladesh observes 25th March as National Genocide Day to remember the victims of 1971 genocide. It is striving for international recognition of the 1971 genocide. However, UN did not recognize the genocide of 1971 internationally. The International Crimes Tribunals of Bangladesh (ICTBD), which has passed 42 judgments till date, has played a role of catalyst in establishing National Genocide Day. The judgments pronounced by the ICTBD by observing due diligence and rule of law can also play a crucial role in obtaining international recognition of the 1971 genocide. The author will discuss the cases where the perpetrators were punished for committing genocide in 1971 and how these judgments can be used as an advocacy tool for international recognition.
|Moderator’s Name||Short Bio|
|Barrister Tapas Kanti Baul||Barrister Baul has been a Prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunals of Bangladesh (ICTBD) since 2012. He is the Executive Director of ELCOP. He teaches International Criminal Law at Jahangir University. Mr. Baul has written a number of articles on International Criminal Law and ICT BD. He is a member of International Association of Genocide Scholars and a member of War Crimes Committee of International Bar Association.|