Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ambassador Rapp and the ICTJ

In the last two weeks the government has received two important letters relating to the issue of standards of the International Crimes Tribunal.

The most significant of the two letters is the one dated 21 March 2011 that was sent by Stephen Rapp, US Ambassador at large for War Crimes. It was addressed to both the Law minister and the Foreign Minister and was hand delivered to both of them by Nicholas Dean, the US embassy’s deputy chief of mission, and Robert Gerardi, an official of the US department of justice on Tuesday 12 April.

Rapp visited Bangladesh on the invitation of the Bangladesh government in January 2011 and this letter is a response to that visit. See this page for material on the January visit.

Clearly a lot of work has gone into putting together this letter, which focuses on changes to the Tribunal Rules of Procedure, which can be changed by the Tribunal itself and therefore can be done without the government's involvement.

An article on the letter has been published in today's New Age, 16 April 2011: "Law minister responds to US proposal for ICT rule changes".

A scanned copy of the full letter can be downloaded here.

And the appendixes linked to the letter can be downloaded here

The second letter, less significant than Rapp's but still important, is one sent by the International Centre for Transitional Justice, dated 15 March 2011. In the context of concerns about the the law governing the Tribunal, it offers its assistance to the government.

An article on the letter was published on 8 April 2011: ""

A scanned copy of the full letter can be downloaded here.

The ICTJ wrote a briefing about the tribunal in July 2010.

Prior to this, in February 2010, the UK All Party Human Rights Group sent a copy of legal advice on the adequacy of the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973 (as amended, ICT Rules of Procedure had not been drafted at this point) that it had obtained from the the War Crimes Group of the International Bar Association to the government. This can be downloaded here

And in July 2009, Human Rights Watch had sent a letter to the prime minister on the subject of necessary changes to the 1973 International Crimes (Tribunal) Act. See here

Some articles on this, can be seen here: "War crimes act needs reform" and here: "War crimes law 'falls short'"

An interview I did with the law minister in early August 2010 (just after the Tribunal had started its hearings) on the issue of standards, can be seen here: 'The Tribunal will meet international standards'

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