this Star Online report:
The Bangladesh government should agree to new trials that meet international standards for members of the former Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) accused of mutiny and murder, including 139 whose death sentences were upheld on November 27 by the High Court, Human Rights Watch said today.
The court also upheld life sentences for another 146 people.
“Families of those killed and injured in the mutiny need justice and closure, but the answer is not through flawed trials,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“True justice comes only through sound procedures that comply with the rule of law, and the families of the victims deserve better answers than this mass roundup,” he added.* * *
A number of women relatives of the officers were sexually assaulted. Human Rights Watch research has found that many of the accused were tortured in custody and most were denied access to proper representation.
“We have long said that the atrocities that took place during the mutiny need to be investigated and prosecuted, but this should not be done through unfair mass trials after the use of torture,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Particularly when the death penalty is involved, expediency cannot take priority over justice.”* * *
In July 2012, Human Rights Watch released a report, “‘The Fear Never Leaves Me’: Torture, Custodial Deaths, and Unfair Trials after the 2009 Mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles,” which provided a detailed account of the mutiny and the authorities’ response.
Human Rights Watch documented serious abuses by the authorities in the aftermath, including at least 47 custodial deaths and widespread torture of BDR members by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and other security forces. The government has claimed that all deaths in custody were due to natural causes.
Human Rights Watch documented how the mass trials of hundreds of the accused left most without adequate counsel, adequate time to prepare a defense, or notice of the charges or evidence against them.
Crucially, many made confessions under torture, according to HRW.
The chief prosecutor claimed that no confession obtained under duress would be used in court, but legal teams eventually assigned to some of the cases showed Human Rights Watch documentation demonstrating that coerced confessions had been used as evidence, the report said.
The Bangladeshi authorities should establish an independent investigative and prosecutorial task force with sufficient expertise, authority, and resources to rigorously investigate allegations of human rights abuses after the mutiny. All those subject to unfair trials should be given a new trial, Human Rights Watch said.