Bangladesh’s government has announced plans to put Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) party on trial for war crimes allegedly committed during Bangladesh Liberation War which saw the Bangladesh-India Allied Forces defeat the Pakistan Army in 1971.
Law Minister Anisul Haque said the government is amending an International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) law so that the entire Jamaat-e-Islami organisation can be put on trial, Bangladeshi news website bdnews24.com reported on Tuesday.
ICT, a domestic war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh, was established in 2009 to investigate and prosecute suspects of the 1971 genocide by the Pakistan Army and its local collaborators.
While the ICT has many supporters in Bangladesh, its critics accuse the tribunal of not following fair trial standards and of being politically motivated.
Abdul Quader Mollah and Mohammad Qamaruzzaman, two top leaders of the JeI, were tried by the ICT and subsequently executed for crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 war.
Geopolitical Monitor reported in May that successive judgements by the ICT in Bangladesh have dealt out death penalties to several high-ranking officials of JeI.
The law in its current form only allows individuals to be tried for war crimes. The draft amendment that would allow organisations to be tried is awaiting the cabinet’s approval before it goes to parliament, Haque told reporters.
“It might take a while to get the details of the amended law in hand and also to say what would happen with the Jamaat-e-Islami party if convicted,” said Barrister Tureen Afroz, a prosecutor at the tribunal.
During the 1971 war, the leaders of the JeI strongly supported remaining united with Pakistan. Many JeI leaders have been accused of collaborating with the Pakistani Army and committing war crimes including mass murder, rape, looting and arson.