Bangladesh: International Lawyers submit evidence to ICC Prosecutor over serious crimes allegedly committed by government forces

4 Feb, 2014 | Press Releases

Brussels, 4 February 2014

Today an application was submitted to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requesting an immediate investigation into crimes allegedly committed in Bangladesh by different arms of the Government against the civilian population. The application, submitted pursuant to article 15(2) of the Rome Statute, relates to the period prior, during and after the recent disputed elections of 5 January 2014 which marked a turbulent period of political upheaval. It outlines information about widespread and arbitrary arrests of opposition activists, continued extra-judicial killings, torture in police custody and enforced disappearances committed by the Bangladeshi security and armed forces during this turbulent period of political upheaval.

Last year, a series of controversial judgments issued by Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunal against opposition leaders sparked serious violence throughout the country and raised strong concerns of the international community about repeated violations of due process and fair trial rights. According to many, these concerns tarnished the credibility of the accountability efforts to address massive atrocities committed during the nine-month conflict in 1971.

The application was filed by lawyers from the London-based Chambers of 9 Bedford Row International, on behalf of the International Coalition for Freedom and Rights, an independent human rights organisation based in Europe, whose core membership includes highly regarded international war crimes experts.

Commenting on the communication submitted to the ICC Prosecutor, Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice, said: “It is ironic that the Article 15.2 Communication comes as a result of the Government of Bangladesh abusing the rhetoric of accountability for crimes under international law in order to pursue narrow partisan aims. The Government of Bangladesh has consistently ignored the legitimate concerns and persistent demands of the international community, including official rulings by United Nations bodies, and did nothing to serve the interests of victims or their communities and hamper the chances for meaningful justice and reconciliation in the country. The Bangladesh ICC communication clearly demonstrates that for all the criticism that the ICC has been facing over the last year, Article 15.2 remains one of the most important guarantees of the Court’s independence. Whenever a situation develops where crimes under international law are being committed on the territory or by nationals of a State Party, the ICC constitutes the last bastion for redress. Whether or not the Bangladesh situation will lead to ICC indictments and prosecutions, the Government of Bangladesh needs to take this complaint seriously, as the allegations go beyond those of actions by the infamous Rapid Action Battalion, or the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (now renamed “Bangladesh Border Guard”), but calls into question the independence and impartiality of the entire judicial system, which is said to be used for narrow partisan aims.”

Read more:
Press Release: 9 Bedford Row International Submits Article 15 Communication to the ICC Prosecutor in Respect of Bangladesh

Previous Press releases:

For further information, contact Alison Smith on or +32-2-548 39 12 or Nicola Giovannini on or +32-2-548-3915.