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Bangladesh: Important step forward for international justice

Amnesty International today welcomes Bangladesh’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which took place on Tuesday 23 March. This important ratification sets a high standard for states in investigating and prosecuting crimes under international law. The ratification follows more than a decade of campaigning by Amnesty International and other civil society groups since Bangladesh signalled its willingness to adhere to the terms of the statute, by signing on 16 September 1999.

Bangladesh is the 111th state to ratify the Rome Statute and the seventh in Asia to do so, joining Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, Timor-Leste and Japan.
By ratifying the Rome Statute, Bangladesh has demonstrated an important commitment to international justice and working to end impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Bangladesh will need to urgently re-examine the law establishing International Crimes Tribunals, which it plans to set up, to try people accused of crimes committed during Bangladesh’s independence war, in order to ensure that the procedures it uses are fully consistent with the Rome Statute and other international law.

The ratification by Bangladesh could have a significant impact in Asia, particularly on Nepal and Indonesia who have promised to ratify. Amnesty International hopes that Bangladesh will encourage these and other states in the region to do so and to join them in sending a high-level delegation to the Review Conference on the Rome Statute scheduled to take place in Kampala from 31 May - 11 June 2010.

 Ratification of the Rome Statute is, however, just the first step. Bangladesh must  now enact effective implementation of legislation; defining genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as crimes under international law in accordance with the strictest international law definitions. This will enable it to prosecute people, regardless of rank, for those crimes whenever and wherever they were committed. That legislation also needs to provide for full cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

In addition, in order to ensure such cooperation, it must also ratify the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court (APIC) so that the Court and its officials can freely visit Bangladesh.

Finally, Bangladesh should now enter into agreement with the Court, regarding provisions for relocation of victims and witnesses. It should also enter into an agreement with the Court providing for the enforcement of court sentences in Bangladesh, and ensuring prison facilities meet international standards.

Mike Blakemore, of Amnesty International UK, said:

“This is exciting news. Amnesty International hopes the government of Bangladesh will now rise to the expectations generated by the ratification of the Rome Statute and work towards enhancing human rights protection in the country and elsewhere. “


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