The Bangladesh government, which likes to present itself as a progressive liberal democracy, has voted to pass a law preventing criticism of the International Crimes Tribunal. Arguing that the ICT is being “obstructed” by those who have questioned its intentions, the law aims to silence opposition completely by making it illegal to criticise the trial at all.
This follows the recent contempt case against the New Age BD newspaper which suggested that the trial may be a politically motivated “judicial stamp” to allow the punishment of those that were (alleged to be) involved in war crimes. In addition, the ICT judge and politicians have been quick to criticise an Aljazeera report by Nicolas Haque, which provided a relatively balanced view of the trial and mentioned the UN decision. They described the report as “untrue and baseless”. The reports have since been removed from the Aljazeera website and its Youtube channel, possibly as a result of pressure from the Bangladeshi government.
It is important that more voices are raised in criticism of the so-called “International Crimes Tribunal” as those in Bangladesh will soon be powerless to speak out against its many flaws.