International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh

by Parvathi Menon

MPILux Working Paper 11 (2017)

Abstract: In the aftermath of the creation of the new State of Bangladesh in 1971, despite its fragility, there was an earnest effort on behalf of Bangladesh to hold the perpetrators of the war of independence accountable, evidenced by the passing of the International Crimes Tribunal Act (‘ICTB Act’) in 1973. Although the ICTB Act came into force in the 1970s, prior to the ad hoc and hybrid tribunals and the International Criminal Court, signifying it as one of the first measures to end impunity for international crimes since the International Military Tribunals of the 1940s, there was a significant 40 year delay in its activation owing to the political turmoil in Bangladesh. Despite its subject-matter jurisdiction reflecting that of the Nuremberg tribunal, the tribunal(s) constituted under the ICTB Act is regularly deemed domestic in nature. Often touted to be a municipal court owing to the absence of non-Bangladeshi judges, the role played by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh—to which a person convicted of any crime specified in the Act and sentenced by the Tribunal has the right to appeal—also adds immensely to the domestic character of the court. Although its uniqueness hinders it from being categorized within the realm of the more widely known international criminal adjudication mechanisms, it can perhaps be categorized as an ‘internationalized-domestic tribunal’.