Rules amended to protect witnesses | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 04, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 04, 2011

War Crimes Trial

Rules amended to protect witnesses

The International Crimes Tribunal has incorporated the provision of protecting witnesses and victims of the 1971 war crimes after bringing amendments to its rules of procedure.
Exercising the power as provided under section 22 in the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act 1973, the tribunal also amended 22 sections to its rules, said Md Shahinur Islam, registrar of the tribunal, yesterday.
Addressing a press briefing on the tribunal premises in the capital, Shahinur said, “The tribunal has brought the amendments to its rules for the second time to make the whole trial process effective and acceptable.”
The latest amendments were published as official gazette on June 28.
The tribunal made the first amendments to its rules in October 2010 to stipulate that anyone being investigated for crimes against humanity in 1971 will be considered an accused.
About protection of witnesses and victims, the latest amendments state the tribunal, on its own initiative or on the application from either party, may pass necessary order directing the authorities concerned to ensure protection, privacy and well-being of the witnesses as well as the victims.
The process of providing protection to the witnesses or victims will be considered confidential and the other side will not be notified.
The government will also arrange accommodation, security and surveillance to the witnesses and victims.
In case of holding proceedings in camera, both the prosecution and the defence counsel will provide undertakings regarding confidentiality of the proceeding, and will not reveal any information arising out of such proceeding including identity of the witness, the amendments read.
Anybody violating such undertaking will be prosecuted under the act.
Before the latest amendment, there was no provision in the act for protecting witnesses and victims.
About granting bail, the amendments say in case of failure of the investigation agency to complete the probe within a year against an accused in custody, the accused may be released on bail by fulfilling some conditions as imposed by the tribunal.
But, in exceptional circumstances, the tribunal by showing reasons to be recorded in writing may extend the period of investigation and also the order detaining the accused in custody for a further period of six months.

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