Abolitionist community appalled at Bangladeshi court ruling
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said: “Justice will not be achieved by conducting mass trials of hundreds of individuals, torturing suspects in custody and sentencing them to death after trials that failed to meet the most fundamental standards of due process.”
Echoing this sentiment, World Coalition member organisation Human Rights Watch remarked: “Trying hundreds of people en masse in one giant courtroom, where the accused have little or no access to lawyers, is an affront to international legal standards.”
World Coalition president and FIDH representative on the death penalty Florence Bellivier said: “The government of Bangladesh should join the international trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and immediately commute the death sentences into lesser sentences.”
Mass death penalty trials of this sort have occurred in other countries in recent year. As previously reported by the World Coalition, 17 Indian nationals were sentenced to death for the murder of one Pakistani man in the United Arab Emirates in 2010.
A desire for “cruel revenge”
The officers of the Bangladesh Border Guards (the Bangladesh Rifles at the time of the offence) were convicted of crimes that were committed during the mutiny, which included the murder of 74 people and sexual assault of numerous women.
Some commentators believe that the widespread anger towards the paramilitary group led to the harshest sentence being imposed.
Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director, stated: “With these sentences, Bangladesh has squandered an opportunity to reinforce trust in the rule of law by ensuring the civilian courts deliver justice. Instead, the sentences seem designed to satisfy a desire for cruel revenge.”
Lawyers for those that were sentenced to death have said they will appeal.
More than 1,000 on death row in Bangladesh
The mutineers alone will make up over 10% of the total death row population in the country, which currently stands at over 1,000 people.
Bangladesh has consistently handed down death sentences over the past decade though this year will easily surpass last year, which saw approximately 45 people sentenced to death.
Bangladesh regularly executes and does so by hanging.
Photo: Mujib Mehdy