Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date: 8 April 2015
We urgently call on the Government of Bangladesh to halt the execution of Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, which is reportedly imminent, following the rejection of his appeal on Monday by the Supreme Court.
Kamaruzzaman was sentenced to death on charges of crimes against humanity by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal. The trial was reportedly rife with irregularities and did not meet international fair trial standards.
The UN Human Rights Office has long warned that, given serious concerns about the fairness of trials conducted before the Tribunal, the Government of Bangladesh should not implement death penalty sentences. The Tribunal has delivered 16 verdicts and 14 death penalty sentences to members of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami and Bangladesh National Party since its inception in 2010. All those who were convicted were accused of committing crimes against humanity, genocide and other international crimes in 1971. One of them, Abdul Quader Mollah, was executed in 2013.
Kamaruzzaman was sentenced to death in May 2013 and his death sentence was upheld on appeal in November 2014. He filed for an independent review of his sentence to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on 5 March 2015 but, without hearing the application on its merits, the Supreme Court summarily rejected his petition.
The UN Human Rights Committee, which interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Bangladesh has ratified, has stressed that “in cases of trials leading to the imposition of the death penalty, scrupulous respect of the guarantees of fair trial is particularly important” and that any death penalty imposed after an unfair trial would be a violation of the right to life.
The UN opposes the use of the death penalty, even in cases where stringent fair trial standards appear to have been met and even for the most serious international crimes. We urge the Government of Bangladesh to impose a moratorium on the death penalty and join the growing number of States that have abolished this inhuman practice.