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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 183rd session
(Geneva, 15 October 2008)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Sheikh Hasina, a member of the Parliament of Bangladesh and Leader of the Opposition at the time the communication was submitted, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/183/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 182nd session (April 2008),

Recalling that the initial line of investigation into the grenade attack of 21 August 2004 against Sheikh Hasina and other Awami League leaders, which claimed the lives of 25 people and injured hundreds, proved to be based on the “confession”, reportedly obtained under duress, of a petty criminal, Joj Miah, who admitted to carrying out the attack with a criminal gang, and that several persons were arrested; noting in this respect that Joj Miah's family has reportedly been provided with a long-term government subsidy,

Recalling that the Caretaker Government ordered a new investigation which, through the confession of Mufti Abdul Hannan, leader of the Horkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji) and others, revealed that the attack had been carried out by Huji elements and enabled the police to arrest more suspects and to recover grenades, rifles and a large quantity of explosives; according to media reports, the investigation also revealed that one of the suspects who was, however, on the run, Moulana Tajudin, a brother of former deputy minister and Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Abdus Salam Pintu, had supplied the grenades used in the attack; and that Mr. Salam Pintu himself had been arrested; noting also that a new charge sheet has reportedly been drawn up and the Police Chief has assured the public that those responsible for diverting the course of the investigation would be taken to task,

Considering that, according to media reports of August 2008, forwarded by one of the sources, Mufti Abdul Hannan and two of his co-accused have retracted their statements, affirming that they had been obtained under torture; the court reportedly accepted their retraction petitions,

Recalling that: four criminal cases, three based on charges of extortion and one on corruption, have been brought against Sheikh Hasina; two of the extortion cases and the corruption case were brought under the Emergency Power Rules 2007 (EPR), which have been criticized as infringing fundamental fair trial guarantees; Sheikh Hasina challenged her trial under the EPR with regard to one of the extortion cases; on 17 February 2008 the High Court ruled on her application, concluding that "the case in question … cannot proceed under the EPR" and "any action taken and/or initiated and continuation of any proceeding or trial of any case" arising out of the case in question under the EPR, "in any court of law or authority, is declared to be without lawful authority and stands quashed"; however, on 17 March 2008 the Chief Justice stripped the High Court division bench which had issued the above ruling of its writ jurisdiction; one of Sheikh Hasina's fellow accused, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, has reportedly given testimony under duress,

Recalling that Sheikh Hasina was arrested on 17 July 2007 and was refused bail; noting in this respect that she has meanwhile been released on parole and allowed to go abroad for medical treatment,

Bearing in mind that Bangladesh is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 14 and 15 of which stipulate fair trial guarantees and Article 9, paragraph 5, of which provides for an enforceable right to compensation in the event of unlawful arrest and detention,

  1. Regrets that the authorities have failed to provide information on the current stage of the investigation into the grenade attack of August 2004 and the criminal proceedings under way against Sheikh Hasina;

  2. Can only express deep concern, in the absence of official information, at reports alleging that the current investigation into the grenade attack is based on testimony extracted under torture, particularly in view of the initial attempt to divert the investigation in what can only be called a travesty of justice;

  3. Reiterates its wish to ascertain the current stage of the investigation, to receive a copy of the charge sheet and to ascertain whether those responsible for diverting the case in the first place have been held responsible; believes in this respect that the conclusions of the judicial inquiry commission should now be published;

  4. Is deeply concerned at the alleged torture of suspects in the grenade attack case and of one of Sheikh Hasina's fellow accused; recalls that, under international human rights law, a prompt and impartial investigation must be instituted wherever there are reasonable grounds for believing that an act of torture has been committed, and wishes to ascertain whether the authorities have instituted any such investigation in this respect; 

  5. Is pleased to note that Sheikh Hasina has been allowed to go abroad for medical treatment; stresses that the prevailing impunity in the grenade attack against her may constitute a serious risk for her safety when she returns to Bangladesh after her medical treatment, and trusts that the authorities will take the necessary measures to ensure her security, as it is their duty to do so; reiterates its wish to receive information on the stage of the criminal proceedings brought against her, with respect in particular to the justification for applying the EPR in this case;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to invite the competent authorities to provide the requested information;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 120th Assembly of the IPU (April 2009).
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