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Individuals, not parties, should be tried for crimes: Rapp

By UNB, DHAKA
06th-Aug-2014       
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US Ambassador at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J Rapp on Tuesday said no political party or organization should be tried for crimes against humanity rather focus should be given on 'individuals' who had committed crimes.
Rapp, head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, said the focus on individuals instead of political party and organisation will help ensure reconciliation and peace in society. "You can convict individuals…it allows reconciliation and allows other people to rejoin the societies. Focusing on individuals helps rebuild society," he told reporters at a press conference held at the American Centre in the city.
Political Officer at the US Embassy in Dhaka Pushpinder Dhillon and Public Affairs officers Viraj M LeBailly were also present. Rapp said he does not think criminal process should be   used for the purpose of convicting political parties. "It's not appropriate to convict political parties. I don't think it's a positive thing." Asked whether he thinks Jamaat should not be held responsible for crimes against humanity, he said does not want to get into any specific party or group.
Responding to a question on defence's proposal to shift the trial process to a third country, Rapp said, "The defense did raise the issue."
He said the defence thinks these trials should be conducted somewhere else with international judges in a third country.
"My own attitude is that the process has started at national level. I don't think it is realistic at this stage," he said adding that his position might disappoint the defence.
On US' position regarding death penalty, he said he had indicated that it would be wisest not to have death penalties.
He, however, favoured death penalties in exceptional circumstances with solid evidence. "Death penalties can only be used in most exceptional circumstances with solid evidence." Asked about his latest position over the entire trial process, Rapp said there are lots of rooms for development and the trial must be free and fair through maintaining the highest international standards. Rapp came to Dhaka on Monday for the fifth time and met Law Minister Anisul Huq, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, a defence lawyer.
During his meeting with the Foreign Minister, he said he is not here to criticise the International Crimes Tribunals (ICTs) as he wants to see the tribunals as a role model in the international arena.
On Gaza issue, the Ambassador said the United States is working for ceasefire and expressed concern over attacks on a UN school.
Rapp said all should strictly follow the International Humanitarian Laws and the US supports and expects fair investigation into incidents occurred in Gaza.
Rapp visited Bangladesh several times in the last few years and during his last trip in 2013 he expressed satisfaction over the progress in war crimes trial but voiced concern over the death penalty of the accused.

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