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Detention of accused unlawful

Allege defence lawyers of war crimes trial

Defence counsels at the International Crimes Tribunal yesterday said detaining their clients on charges of crimes against humanity before conviction is a violation of international laws.

Referring to a report of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, they said detention prior to conviction should be an exception rather than a rule.

“The tribunal has detained seven of the eight detainees for over a year without framing charges against them,” Abdur Razzaq, chief counsel of the defence team at the tribunal, said at a press conference at the Supreme Court Bar Association auditorium.

“As pointed out by the UN Working Group, this is a violation of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” he said in a written statement.

According to the defence counsels, the UN group also found “significant restrictions” on the detainees' access to legal assistance and their “unimpeded access to evidence”.

The UN group also noted that the government did not submit any information justifying the refusal to release the detainees on bail, said Abdur Razzaq, adding it (working group) termed this a violation of international laws.

“We hope the government will remedy the situation and ensure compliance with all recognised norms of international law,” Razzak said.

Defence counsels Zainul Abedin and Tajul Islam echoed what he said.

Meanwhile, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said yesterday it is not right to think that the accused are being detained without any reason.

There are no violations of human rights in the ongoing trial of crimes against humanity, and questions of human rights violation are being raised simply to create confusion, he told journalists after a meeting with a 23-member team from Sweden's Harryda College at the law ministry.

Shafique said history saw the worst violations of human rights during the Liberation War in1971, and the ongoing trial seeks to do justice to the victims of those.

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