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Dhaka Tribune

US Congressman to look into Bangladesh's ICT cases

Update : 18 Apr 2013, 11:42 AM

US Congressman Keith Ellison has assured Bangladesh Ambassador to the US Akramul Qader of seriously looking into the US-GSP case and the ongoing trial of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).

Ellison, who is also the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that he took a serious interest in Bangladesh's deliberations and assured of seriously looking into the case when the Bangladesh envoy met with him at his office on Wednesday.

Qader briefed the congressman on the constitution of the IICT, its legal premises as well as the current situation of Bangladesh, according to a message received here today.

The ambassador updated the US congressmen about the ongoing Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) case with the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and sought his intervention.

During the meeting, Bangladesh Ambassador handed over the Congressman some documents on the ICT and a paper related to Bangladesh's submission to the USTR on GSP.

While briefing overview on different aspects of the ICT including its commitment to fair and transparent trials, Qader said that the ICT's primary mandate is to bring to justice the local collaborators of Pakistani occupation army during the War of Liberation in 1971 for crimes committed against humanity.

Bangladesh Ambassador said the mass killings and atrocities orchestrated in 1971 devalued general principles of humanity, particularly because those were carried out in a planned manner on the basis of ethnicity, religion and race.

He mentioned that the present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made an electoral pledge to bring to justice the war criminals of 1971 and she received an overwhelming public mandate to try the criminals.

Ambassador also briefed in detail the recent verdicts of the ICT, the context and justifications of the judgments as well as the unprecedented violence and atrocities by extremist groups against the law enforcement agencies, and minority communities in defiance of the verdicts of the ICT.

On the US-GSP case with the USTR, Quader stressed that Bangladesh's exclusion from the list of beneficiary nations would bring in a serious market access and image concern for the country.

He pointed out that the US-GSP facility does not cover the readymade garment export (RMG) to the USA, and Bangladesh, in fact, pays an exorbitant amount of over $700m as tariff penalty for its $4.87bn worth RMG exports to the US market.

As such, American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations' (AFL-CIO) petition against Bangladesh has a serious disconnection.

Ambassador also apprised the Congressman of the governmental and industry level measures taken to improve the working conditions, safety measures and benefit packages of the RMG workers.

He assured that Bangladesh is on the right trajectory of improvement in terms of government's oversight and industry level awareness on maintaining world class labour standards.

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