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UN HR experts seek annulment of Mir Quasem’s death sentence
Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Human rights experts of United Nations on Tuesday urged the government of Bangladesh to annul the death sentence against central leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Mir Quasem Ali.

They also urged the government to ‘re-try’ him in compliance with international standards, according to a message received in Dhaka from Geneva. The experts’ request comes as the Supreme Court prepares to review the case on Wednesday.

The UN experts who have urged the government to annul the death sentence are Agnes Callamard, new UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mónica Pinto, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Sètondji Roland Adjovi, current chairperson of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

 The UN experts on extrajudicial executions, independence of the judiciary, torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances claimed that Quasem’s trial and appeal processes were “reportedly marred with irregularities and failed to meet international standards” on fair trial and due process for the imposition of the death penalty.”

“International law, accepted as binding by Bangladesh, provides that capital punishment may only be imposed following trials that comply with the most stringent requirements of fair trial and due process, or could otherwise be considered an arbitrary execution,” the statement further said. The UN human rights experts on several occasions have expressed concern over serious violations of fair trial and due process guarantees in the judicial proceedings before the ICT. “The death penalty is the most severe form of punishment,” the statement stressed.

 “In light of its irreversibility, every measure must be taken to ensure that all the defendants before the International Crimes Tribunal, including the Appellate Division, have received a fair trial,” they said in the statement.

Mir Quasem was sentenced to death in 2014 by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) for crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Independence War. The decision was confirmed by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on March 8, 2016.