Published:  09:03 AM, 29 November 2023

Crafting a Global Strategy for Fugitive Bangabandhu Killers’ Extradition

Crafting a Global Strategy for Fugitive Bangabandhu Killers’ Extradition
The pursuit of justice for the killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not merely a legal undertaking but a multifaceted challenge that demands a comprehensive strategy. The complexities of transnational legal frameworks, diplomatic intricacies, and historical sensitivities surrounding the case necessitate an exhaustive approach. In the intricate world of international diplomacy, the quest for justice in casesof the convicted and fugitive killers of Bangabandhu involves a complex diplomatic dance, requiring strategic negotiation between Bangladesh and the countries they are currently staying. While the Interpol red notice hangs over their heads, ensuring their extradition requires not just legal acumen but a nuanced, strategic and multifaceted approach. As negotiations unfold, the collective efforts of the Bangladeshi government, its international partners, and the global community can set a precedent for upholding justice in the face of historical atrocities.

As the international community watches the pursuit of justice for a killer of Bangabandhu, called SHMB Noor Chowdhury, recently caught on video in Toronto, the focus extends beyond him to the remaining five perpetrators - Abdur Rashid, Shariful Huq Dalim, M Rashed Chowdhury, Abdul Majed, and Risaldar Moslemuddin. Bringing them back to Bangladesh for due punishment involves a complex set of legal, diplomatic, and strategic considerations. Steps Bangladesh should take may include:

First, Building Compelling Legal Cases: Bangladesh must meticulously build and present airtight legal cases against the fugitive convicts. This includes collating and organizing evidence of their involvement in the 1975 massacre. A comprehensive legal dossier, detailing the charges and the global ramifications of harboring an international fugitive, can bolster Bangladesh's negotiating position.

Second, Leveraging Strategic Bilateral Partnerships: Diplomatic channels are crucial in negotiating extradition. Cultivating strategic partnerships with countries sympathetic to Bangladesh's cause is vital. Bilateral agreements that prioritize extradition and legal cooperation can create a network of support, pressuring countries that currently provide refuge to the fugitives. Bilateral diplomatic efforts, especially with countries that may be hosting the fugitives, are crucial. Bangladesh must engage in strategic dialogue to secure the cooperation of these nations in arresting and extraditing the killers. Building on existing diplomatic ties and alliances will enhance the effectiveness of these efforts. High-level diplomatic engagements and discussions can pave the way for a more receptive response from countries sheltering the fugitives. Emphasizing the importance of justice in healing historical wounds can resonate on the diplomatic front.

Third, Engaging International Partners: Bangladesh should actively engage with its international partners who share a commitment to justice and human rights. Garnering support from countries with influence on fugitive sheltering countries can exert diplomatic pressure. The involvement of international bodies and human rights organizations can bring a spotlight to the case, increasing the global call for justice. Fourth, Public Diplomacy and Awareness: Raising awareness about the case on the international stage can be a diplomatic tool. Public diplomacy can include media campaigns, opinion pieces, and advocacy initiatives to ensure that the global community is informed about the historical significance of the case and the urgency for justice. Fifth, Exploring Legal Avenues: Working on strengthening international legal frameworks for the extradition of individuals accused of crimes against humanity is essential. Collaborating with international legal experts and human rights organizations can contribute to the development of mechanisms that facilitate the extradition process. While the killer sheltering countries and Bangladesh might not have a formal extradition treaty, exploring alternative legal avenues is crucial. This could involve seeking assistance from legal experts and scholars to find innovative approaches or precedents in international law that could facilitate the extradition process.

Sixth, Humanitarian Considerations: Diplomacy often involves balancing legal imperatives with humanitarian considerations. Bangladesh can present the case not just as a legal obligation but as a humanitarian imperative, stressing the emotional and psychological toll on the families of the victims and the larger Bangladeshi community. Seventh, Engaging the Bangladeshi Diaspora: The Bangladeshi diaspora in Bangabandhu killer sheltering countries can play a significant role. Mobilizing support within the diaspora community and encouraging them to engage with sheltering countries’ authorities and lawmakers can create a groundswell of opinion in favor of justice. Eighth, Preserving International Norms: Framing the case within the broader context of preserving international norms against impunity can resonate with countries that champion human rights. Emphasizing the need for global cooperation in combating crimes of such magnitude can create a shared commitment to justice.

Ninth,Issuing Red Notices through Interpol: Similar to Noor Chowdhury, issuing Interpol red notices for the remaining fugitives is a pivotal step. This international alert system facilitates cooperation between countries to locate and provisionally arrest individuals pending extradition. Bangladesh should actively pursue this avenue to garner global support. Tenth, Engaging with the United Nations: Bringing the case to the attention of the United Nations can internationalize the pursuit for justice. Advocacy at the UN, presenting the case as a symbol of global commitment against impunity, can rally support from member states and create diplomatic pressure on countries harboring the perpetrators.

Eleventh, Creating International Alliances: Building alliances with countries that have a shared commitment to justice can amplify Bangladesh's voice on the international stage. Collective efforts by nations with a history of upholding human rights can exert pressure on countries harboring the fugitives.Twelfth, Global Media Campaigns: Utilizing global media platforms to highlight the significance of bringing these perpetrators to justice can create public awareness and opinion. Documentaries, interviews with the families of the victims, and articles in international publications can mobilize public sentiment in favor of justice.Thirteenth, Reward System for Information: Implementing a reward system for information leading to the arrest of the fugitives can incentivize individuals with crucial details to come forward. This can be coordinated internationally, encouraging a collaborative effort to secure information on the whereabouts of the killers.

Fourteenth, Engagement with International Tribunals: Bangladesh could explore avenues to bring the perpetrators before international tribunals, collaborating with global entities like the International Criminal Court (ICC). Presenting the case in the context of upholding human rights and international justice norms can garner backing from the global community.This move would signify a commitment to international justice standards and potentially circumvent challenges posed by the sanctuary some perpetrators enjoy.Fifteenth, Engaging the Bangladeshi Diaspora: The Bangladeshi diaspora, with its significant presence in various countries, can play a crucial role. Mobilizing the diaspora to engage with local authorities, politicians, and media can create grassroots support for the cause.Sixteenth, Humanitarian Appeal: Emphasizing the humanitarian aspect of the pursuit for justice is vital. Presenting the case as not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative can resonate with the international community.

Seventeenth, Establishing Truth and Reconciliation Processes: Concurrently, the initiation of truth and reconciliation processes can complement legal actions. This approach allows for acknowledgment, healing, and national reconciliation, while the legal proceedings focus on accountability. Striking a balance between justice and reconciliation is crucial for a nation emerging from a traumatic past.Eighteenth, Leveraging International Human Rights Advocacy: Partnering with international human rights organizations can amplify Bangladesh's voice. Advocacy campaigns, joint statements, and appeals to global conscience can create a groundswell of support, emphasizing the imperative of holding the killers accountable for their actions.Nineteenth, Educational Initiatives: Fostering a nuanced understanding of the historical context can be achieved through educational initiatives. Incorporating the events of 1975 into school curricula globally can raise awareness and garner empathy, potentially fostering international public opinion against harboring the perpetrators.

Twentieth, Memorialization Efforts: Establishing memorials or museums commemorating the victims of the 1975 assassination can serve dual purposes. Firstly, it pays homage to the memory of Bangabandhu and the countless others who lost their lives. Secondly, it brings international attention to the gravity of the crime, potentially swaying public opinion against harboring the fugitives.Twenty-first, Utilizing Regional Diplomacy: Regional diplomatic efforts are pivotal. Bangladesh could engage with neighboring countries and regional organizations to build a unified stance against sheltering individuals accused of crimes against humanity. Regional pressure could be a persuasive force in influencing countries providing refuge to the perpetrators.Twenty-second, UNESCO Recognition for Historic Sites: Seeking UNESCO recognition for sites related to the assassination could elevate the issue to the global stage. Designating the sites as part of the world's cultural heritage could trigger international interest and solidarity, pushing for justice for the victims.Twenty-third, Interfaith and Inter Community Dialogue: Initiating interfaith and intercommunity dialogues involving various religious and ethnic groups can build a consensus on the importance of justice. Collaborative efforts to condemn impunity and foster a shared understanding of the tragedy can transcend national boundaries.Twenty-fourth, Digital Diplomacy: Leveraging digital platforms for diplomacy is crucial in the contemporary landscape. Social media campaigns, online petitions, and digital awareness initiatives can galvanize global support, particularly from younger generations who are more interconnected and socially conscious.

The pursuit of justice for Bangabandhu's killers demands not only legal acumen but a holistic strategy that integrates historical, diplomatic, and societal dimensions. By navigating these complex channels, Bangladesh can strive not only for legal accountability but also for global acknowledgment of the significance of this quest for justice.

Dr. Rashid Askari is a distinguished
academic, bilingual writer, translator,
media personality and former vice
chancellor of Islamic University Bangladesh.

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