Categories
Conflict Justice

Justice in Bangladesh: What to Expect

Photo: Vashkar Abedin/flickr

Bangladesh appears to be powering ahead with its war crimes tribunal, established to try those who collaborated with the Pakistan army in committing war crimes during the 1971 independence war. On Nov. 20th, its first suspect, Delwar Hossain Sayedee wascharged. I wrote here about the historical context in which the tribunal was established. The Bengali government has also now upped its ante by demanding a formal apology from Pakistan, although it is not clear whether this is forthcoming.

The tribunal has been welcomed by many as a late but useful tool to “set the record straight”, so to speak. Nevertheless, though many were killed or suffered in other ways that year, the fact still remains that the tribunal is thought to be a kangaroo court.

A major criticism relates to case selection. Although the tribunal claims comprehensive jurisdiction to “try and punish any individual or group of individuals, or any member of any armed, defence or auxiliary forces, irrespective of his nationality, it is not prosecuting Pakistani soldiers or members of the Bangladesh military. It is chasing only easy targets, members of the opposition parties comprising the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami – indeed all seven defendants who are currently under investigation are elderly members of the opposition, some of whom were clearly against the creation of Bangladesh, but membership in itself does not, of course, make one necessarily guilty.

Categories
International Relations Human Rights

Serbia’s Bid for EU Candidacy

Wall with graffiti: Never, EU!
EU, never? Wait and see. Photo: Limbic/flickr

The timing could not have been any better. A few days from now, the chief prosecutor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will release a report which was expected to paint a damning picture of Serbia’s co-operation with the ICTY, thereby destroying Serbia’s chance of getting EU candidacy status this year. Considering today’s historic arrest of war criminal Ratko Mladic and his expected extradition to The Hague, some people at the ICTY will now have to work overtime to correct the draft report, .

Serbia’s move towards EU accession began back in 2008, with presidential elections and a parliamentary vote both demonstrating the appeal of the EU perspective to Serbia’s electorate. Even after Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence, a majority of Serbians continued to resist nationalistic demagogy. Of course the nationalist ideology had not disappeared, but its political significance started to diminish.

Serbia officially applied for EU membership in December 2009, after seeking to secure the broadest possible support among member states. In October last year, the EU member states referred Serbia’s application for membership in the EU to the European Commission, while reiterating that further steps toward membership would depend on Serbia’s “full co-operation” with the ICTY. The Netherlands in particular took a tough stance, reiterating that their consent was dependent on the arrest of General Mladic and Goran Hadzic.