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Dhaka rejects UN observations on war crime trial
Saturday, 03 March 2012
Law minister Shafique Ahmed, on Saturday, rejected a letter from the United Nations (UN) claiming that the people standing trial on charges of war crimes in 1971 War of Liberation were being detained illegally. “We have received a letter from the UN, containing the allegations that those who have been standing trial on charges of war crimes under the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) have been detained illegally. But none has been detained without any valid reason or without any investigation. They have been detained on specific charges against them,” he told reporters after an exchange of views with secretaries of different ministries, organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at a city hotel. “We have told them clearly that those who are being detained without proper trial procedures could be considered as illegally held,” Shafique Ahmed said. “But those who have been brought under trial for war crimes are facing specific allegations, backed by proper investigation and data. As such, the detention of the war criminals in no way could be described as illegal,” he added. The law minister further said the ICT was trying only those who had committed crimes against humanity in the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence. He said, “…the trial in our country is taking place in a transparent manner following international standards, in which the accused have the opportunity to defend themselves. So, the question of violation of human rights does not arise.” Regarding the constitutional recognition of the ethnic minorities in the country, the law minister said: “Anthropologically and geographically, there is no existence of indigenous people in the country. Those who are living here are tribals and they cannot be described as indigenous in any way.” Citing the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169, he said: “Indigenous people are those who were living in a country or state before conquest or colonisation. But in our country this is not the situation. So, they are not indigenous but tribals.”