Salauddin Quader Chowdhury
Salauddin Quader Chowdhury was born on 13 March 1949 in Gahira Village. He served as the adviser of parliamentary affairs to Prime Minister Khaleda Zia from 2001 to 2006. His father, Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, was a speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly and acting President of Pakistan.
During the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971 Quader Chowdhury fought for Pakistan and the anti-liberation forces who were against the independence of Bangladesh. The Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal accused him of torture, kidnapping, rape, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. He also killed numerous people himself, including the owner of a pharmacy in the town of Chittagong.
On 16 December 2010, Quader Chowdhury was arrested for having ordered, in June 2010, that a car be set on fire, killing the owner. On 19 December 2010 the International Crimes Tribunal released a warrant for his arrest for war crimes committed during the Bangladesh War of Independence.
As a result of a complaint filed on 26 July 2010, an investigation into Quader Chowdhury’s involvement in war crimes, genocide and torture was opened.
On 16 December 2010 he was arrested for having ordered, in June of that year, that a car be set on fire, killing its owner.
On 19 December 2010, the International Crimes Tribunal released a warrant for his arrest for his involvement in war crimes during the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.
On 4 April 2012, the International Crimes Tribunal confirmed 23 charges brought against Quader Chowdhury for his involvement in genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the War of Independence in 1972 including; murder, rape, arson, robbery and complicity.
On 1 October 2013, Quader Chowdhury was found guilty of 9 of the 23 charges brought against him including: genocide, crimes against humanity and torture. He was sentenced to death and given several prison sentences. He was executed on 22 November 2015.
THE 1971 BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR
The 1947 partition of India resulted in the emergence of the country of Pakistan out of two territories: West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan) and East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh). As a response to the Awami League victory in the 1970 general elections, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971, a massive military operation designed to curb the nationalist movement in East Pakistan. The armed conflict became known as the “Liberation War” and lasted until 16 December 1971.
The conflict involved widespread killings and other atrocities –forced displacement, disappearances, destruction and confiscation of property, torture and sexual violence– carried out by the Pakistan Army with the assistance of religious and political groups from East and West Pakistan. The exact number of victims of the conflict is not established. Bangladeshi authorities claim that 3 million people were killed while a Pakistan Government investigation states the figure of 26,000. The conflict also led to a major humanitarian crisis, with eight to ten millions refugees fleeing to India. Sexual violence was allegedly used as a weapon of war, with an estimated 200.000 women victims of rape.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL ACT (ICTA)
On 20 June 1973, the ICTA was adopted to provide for the prosecution of any persons for “crimes against humanity, genocide, crimes against peace, war crimes, violation of any humanitarian rules and any other crimes under international law” committed in Bangladesh. The ICTA, using the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal Charter as a template, was to serve as a basis for a national tribunal.
However, efforts ended with the military coup of 1975. The new regime also repealed the 1972 Collaborator’s Act, which had been designed to bring to account those who had collaborated with the Pakistan Army. As a result, prosecutions of “collaborators” who did not fall under the 30 November 1973 amnesty were stopped, and all those detained and convicted were pardoned and released.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL (ICT)
In 2008, the ICTA was resuscitated in the election manifesto of the Awami League. In 2009, the elected Awami League government adopted a resolution to initiate the establishment of a civilian court, which led to the 2009 amendment of the ICTA. In March 2010, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) was set up and its Rules of Procedure were adopted on 15 July 2010.
The ICT has generated criticism from the international community, including the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues. This criticism mainly addresses the lack of fair trial standards. The European Union has also voiced its concern with regards to the potential application of the death penalty.
LIMITATIONS TO THE TRIAL OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMES
Several legislative and executive orders granted immunity to groups involved in the 1971 Liberation War. In February 1973, shortly before the ICTA, the Bangladesh National Liberation Struggle (Indemnity) Order granted immunity to all freedom fighters for acts committed in connection with the “Liberation Struggle”. On 30 November 1973, a general amnesty was declared for all Bangladesh citizens who had collaborated with the Pakistan Army, with the exception of those accused of murder, rape, arson or genocide. Finally, the early 1974 tripartite agreement organised the return of Pakistani prisoners of wars, including those accused of committing war crimes, without charging them.
The ICTA was, however, never repealed. It provides for the prosecution of Bangladeshi nationals who were not granted immunity for international crimes committed during the Liberation War.