Saturday, January 17, 2015

50 signature statement proceedings

The International Crimes Tribunal-2 has issued a number of orders relating to a statement given by 49 Bangladeshis (it was originally 50, but one person removed her name, most of whom live in Bangladesh) which commented on a judgement given earlier by the tribunal involving contempt of court. 

Most recently the Tribunal has asked the 49 people "to explain the contents of the ‘statement’ they allegedly made and their conduct."

The sequence of events and the links to the orders involving 'the statement' are set out below

1. On 2nd December, the International Crimes Tribunal published its judgement on the contempt proceedings involving three articles on the blog.
      - To see an analysis of this judgement, click here 
      - Statement by English Pen  
      - Statement by Reporters without Borders  
      - Statement by HRW, Amnesty International, International Commission or Jurists           
      - Statement by South Asian journalists, writers, historians and activists from South Asia
2. On 19 December, a statement was issued by 50 Bangladeshis.
3. On 23 December, the New York Times published an editorial

50 signature statement - signatories asked to explain

Following its order on 31 December 2014, seeking addresses of those who put their names to a statement reported in the media, the International Crimes Tribunal  on 14 January 2015 passed an order on 49 of these people "to explain the contents of the ‘statement’ they allegedly made and their conduct."

The order is set out below (see in particular paras 10, 12, and 13). Please note that the numbering of paragraphs matches the numbering in the original order.

In the matter of ‘statement’ made by 49 citizens on Tribunal’s order convicting David Bergman for contempt]
Order No.04

Dated 14.1.2015

Dr. Shahdeen Malik, Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court [one of makers to the 'statement ' in question], in compliance with Tribunal's earlier order has submitted today the address of the 49 citizens the makers to the 'statement'. We have seen it as placed by the Registrar.

Now the record is taken up for order.

1. The Tribunal taking into its notice the news item titled 'Concern of 50 citizens over Bergman's punishment' published in the Daily Prothom Alo, 20 December 2014, page 2 criticizing on the order dated 02 December 2013 punishing David Bergman a foreign national who has been working in Bangladesh as a journalist for the offence of contempt under section 11(4) of the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973 asked the Editor, the Daily Prothom Alo for furnishing the signed copy of the text of ‘statement’.

50 signature statement - addresses sought

Following its order on 28 December, in which the tribunal raised concerns about a statement signed by 50 Bangladeshis, it passed another order asking that addresses of the signatories be given to the Tribunal.

The order states: "For the purpose of effective disposal of the matter in hand we deem it expedient to have the communicating address of all the signatories … "

A copy of the order is set out below
In compliance to our order dated 28.12.2014 the Editor of the Daily Prothom Alo has submitted the unsigned copy of "Statement" to the Registrar of the Tribunal which has been placed before us. 
We have seen and perused the unsigned copy of the "Statement" published in the Daily Prothom Alo on 20.12.2014 as a news item under the title 'Concern of 50 citizens over Bergman's punishment'
The Editor, the Daily Prothom Alo in his correspondence states-
"On 18.12.2014 we received the said statement of 50 citizens [Annexure-1] through an email from Hana Shams Ahmed, a writer and activist and one of the makers to the 'Statement'. After receiving the statement we cross-checked & verified the authenticity of the 'statement' and published the news on December 20,2014."
The correspondence also states that later on, Khushi Kabir, one of the 50 citizens as making the statement, wrote a letter requesting Prothom Alo to retract her name from the 'Statement'.

Order on Prothom Alo - 50 signature statement report

On 28 December, 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 passed a suo moto order on a news items in the Daily Prothom Alo, the country's biggest newspaper, and an editorial in the New York Times.

The article in Prothom Alo reported on a statement issued by 50 citizens concerned with the judgement passed by the International Crimes Tribunal concerning articles on this blog. The editorial in the New York Times was on the same subject.

The order criticizes the New York Times editorial, and states: 
We are surprised to note that the Editorial Board of The New York Times a renowned international daily can make comment “If justice is truly what the International Crimes Tribunal seeks, it should immediately overturn Mr. Bergman’s sentence and Conviction”. We fail to understand how a daily news paper of international repute asks a court of law of a sovereign country by saying-- ‘it [Tribunal] should immediately overturn Mr. Bergman’s sentence’. 
The order however does not pass any direction on the NYT.

In relation to the Prothom Alo report, the order states:
in order to dispel misconception and since the Tribunal is obliged to protect its jurisdiction and authority, we indispensably need to know-
(i) Whether the statement [published in the Daily Prothom Alo, 20 December 2014, page 2] has been made in the interest of public and
(ii) On the basis of which analysis the signatories have made such statement titled ''50 citizens express concern over Bergman's punishment'. 
The order then goes onto the paper to submit a 'copy of the full text of the statement so made and signed by 50 citizens to the Tribunal