International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh

by Parvathi Menon

This paper was first published as MPILux Working Paper 11 (2017). The full and final text is now available online as an entry of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law, published by OUP at

Introduction: After the new State of Bangladesh was created in 1971, despite its fragility, there was an earnest effort on its behalf to hold the perpetrators of the war of independence accountable. Evidenced by the passing of the International Crimes Tribunal Act in 1973, prior to the ad hoc and hybrid tribunals and the International Criminal Court, the International Crimes Tribunal for Bangladesh is one of the first measures to end impunity for international crimes since the International Military Tribunals of the 1940s. This entry examines the workings of this unknown criminal court, through its organizational structure and procedures. Through these different components, this entry studies why ICTB may be both celebrated and vilified. Viewed as a judicious attempt on behalf of the government of Bangladesh to end impunity, the ICTB is equally criticized and condemned owing to its schizophrenic approach towards criminal justice. On the one hand, the tribunal appears invested in complying with the international standards by trying international crimes, but on the other hand, it shows abandon in its procedures and practices by relying on the (absolute) sovereignty of its domestic choices. Therefore, creating its own category of ‘domesticized international tribunals’, this entry draws from the court’s jurisprudence while providing a few comparative lessons.