The Bangladeshi government should investigate threats to defense lawyers and witnesses in cases at the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) and take steps to prevent them, Human Rights Watch said today. The ICT was set up to provide justice for victims of atrocities in the 1971 war of independence.??Lawyers representing the accused before the ICT have reported being harassed by state officials and threatened with arrests. Several witnesses and an investigator working for the defense have also reported harassment by police and threats for cooperating with the defense. “Harassment of defense counsel and witnesses further tarnishes a flawed process,” said Brad Adams,Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “If the Bangladeshi government wants these trials to be taken seriously it must ensure that the rights of the accused are fully respected. That means making sure that lawyers and witnesses don’t face threats or coercion.” Human Rights Watch has learned of threats made against a leading lawyer on the defense team of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, whose trial on charges of crimes against humanity was scheduled to begin at the end of September 2011 but has been delayed until November 20. The barrister, who wishes to remain anonymous, was warned by reliable and senior sources to stay away from his office. He was told that false charges were being prepared against him in order to arrest him and thus prevent him from participating in Sayedee’s defense. Full Story:Bangladesh: Stop Harassment of Defense at War TribunalSource:Human Rights Watch
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