Death Penalty Worldwide

Bangladesh

Last updated on April 6, 2011

General

Official Country Name

People’s Republic of Bangladesh (Bangladesh). [1]

Geographical Region

Asia (South-central Asia). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [4]

Shooting.
If shooting is used as a method of execution, its use is uncommon. In 2009, the Bangladesh Supreme Court ruled that various military officers could be executed by firing squad for their participation in a coup and the 1975 murders of Sheikh Rahman and most of his family. The sentence of public execution by firing squad—seen by some as unduly harsh and designed to appease members of the public still angered by the coup—had been contested since 1998. Ultimately, the executions were carried out by hanging despite the court’s ruling that shooting was permissible. [5] Presumably, no-one was executed by shooting during the resolution of this case—between 1998 and 2009.

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Bangladesh, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3452.htm, May 24, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Five Men Executed in Bangladesh, ASA 13/004/2010, Feb. 1, 2010.
[4] Bangladesh Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 368(1), No. V of 1898.
[5] Peter Popham, Assassins’ death sentences fail to calm Bangladesh, The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/assassins-death-sentences-fail-to-calm-bangladesh-1184002.html, Nov. 10, 1998; Haroon Habib, The judgment and the law, Frontline vol. 15, no. 24, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/fl1524/15240070.htm, Nov. 21- Dec. 4, 1998; Arshad Mahmud, Bullet For A Bullet, Outlook India, http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?206558, Nov. 23, 1998; Jay Shankar, Bangladesh: Death penalty on army coup leaders, Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aGUsvXhRBGh4, Nov. 19, 2009; Mujib killers’ execution only after review petitions, IANS, http://blog.taragana.com/law/2009/11/23/mujib-killers-execution-only-after-review-petitions-17617/, Nov. 23, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Five Men Executed in Bangladesh, ASA 13/004/2010, Feb. 1, 2010; Ashutosh Sarkar & Chaitanya Chandra Halder, What courts observed, The Daily Star, http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=123951, Jan. 29, 2010.

Country Details

Language(s)

Bangla/Bengali. [1]

Population

156,000,000.   [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

At least 1172. [3]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2014 to date (last updated on October 24, 2014)

0. [4]

Executions in 2013

2. [5]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

1 execution per 78,000,000 persons

Executions in 2012

1. [6]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

1 execution per 156,000,000 persons

Executions in 2011

5. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

1 execution per 31200000 persons

Executions in 2010

9. [8]

Executions in 2009

3. [9]

Executions in 2008

5. [10]

Executions in 2007

6. [11]

Year of Last Known Execution

2013. [12]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Bangladesh, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3452.htm, May 24, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Bangladesh, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3452.htm, May 24, 2010.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 15, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[4] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014. Abul Hossain, Man executed for killing wife, child, http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/04/23/man-executed-for-killing-wife-child, Apr. 23, 2013. Bangkok Post, Bangladesh executes top Islamist leader for war crimes, http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/world/384485/bangladesh-court-clears-the-way-for-execution-of-top-islamist, Dec. 12, 2013.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 15, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[12] Abul Hossain, Man executed for killing wife, child, http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2013/04/23/man-executed-for-killing-wife-child, Apr. 23, 2013.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder. [1]

Murder. [2]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Robbery resulting in death is a death eligible offense for each of the offenders involved in the robbery. [3] Maiming of women and children by explosive, poisonous or corrosive substances is, when resulting in death, a capital offense. [4] The likelihood of or intent to cause death or grievous injury may not be an element of the offense. Bearing false witness in a capital case, with intent or knowledge that the defendant could be executed, and resulting in the defendant’s conviction and execution, is punishable by death. [5]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death. [6]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death. [7]

Rape Not Resulting in Death. [8]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Kidnapping of a child under the age of 10 for the purpose of murder, grievous injury, slavery, or sexual exploitation, or abetting (by concealment or confinement) such a kidnapping may be punishable by death. [9]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death. [10]

Drug Possession. [11]
Possession of large quantities of drugs is punishable by death, so possession for trafficking rather than mere possession may be a death-eligible offense.

Treason.
Waging war against Bangladesh, or attempting or abetting such an act, is punishable by death. [12]

Espionage. [13]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Civilians may be executed for abetting mutiny. Offenses not involving death committed by military personnel in the Army, Navy and Air Force such as desertion, cowardice, inducement to such, espionage, aid to the enemy, treacherous or cowardly use of a flag of truce, false alarm in time of war, desertion in war, or any act calculated to imperil Bangladesh may be punished by death. Some offenses committed by military personnel, such as against persons not subject to the law of the service or the law of Bangladesh, may be punishable by death. The Bangladesh Guard may be included along with other military branches, per legislation pending during our research. [14]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Attempted Dowry Murder. [15]
- Abetting or Conspiring to Commit Capital Offenses.
It is unclear whether individuals may be sentenced to death for limited participation or for inchoate crimes. [16]
- Human Trafficking. [17]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

No. After a High Court ruling in the appeal of Sukur Ali, joined or filed by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust in February 2010 (challenging the mandatory death penalty for rape) the mandatory death penalty in Bangladesh is probably unconstitutional. [18] We had not located the ruling as of March 12, 2010.

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

After a High Court ruling in the appeal of Sukur Ali, joined or filed by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust in February 2010 (challenging the mandatory death penalty for rape) the mandatory death penalty in Bangladesh is probably unconstitutional. [19] We had not located the ruling as of March 12, 2010.

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Aggravated Murder.
In 2010, individuals were executed for the 1975 pre-dawn mass murder of Bangladesh’s independence leader, much of his immediate family, other relatives, political associates and bodyguards. While it is unclear that the conviction was for aggravated murder, the offense can be characterized as aggravated murder. [20]

Murder.
As of Mar. 12, 2010, we found only reports of executions for murder in 2008-2010. [21] Executions in 2010 that we were able to identify were for murder. [22]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Article 51 of the 1974 Children act excludes offenders under the age of 16 from the death penalty, [23] although we did not find any translations of domestic law that fully excludes individuals below the age of 18 at the time of the crime. In 2003 the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that 16 or 17 year olds could be sentenced to death. [24] In 2009, the U.N. CRC reiterated this concern and recommended that Bangladesh clarify its definition of the child to include all persons under the age of 18. [25] U.N. documents indicate that Bangladesh’s position is that it does not execute individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18, that death sentences for such individuals are rarely—if at all—meted out by courts and that Bangladesh is considering amending the 1974 Children Act to assure a clear legal exclusion. [26] As of July 8, 2010 we did not find any reports indicating that individuals are actually sentenced to death for crimes committed while under the age of 18.

Pregnant Women. [27]
Women cannot be executed while pregnant, and the High Court may commute a woman’s sentence to life imprisonment after term.

References

[1] Bangladesh Oppression of Women and Children (Special Provisions) Act, art. 4, No. 18 of 1995, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project.
[2] Bangladesh Penal Code, art. 302, No. 45 of 1860.
[3] Bangladesh Penal Code, arts. 391, 396, No. 45 of 1860.
[4] Bangladesh Oppression of Women and Children (Special Provisions) Act, art. 4, No. 18 of 1995, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project.
[5] Bangladesh Penal Code, art. 194, No. 45 of 1860.
[6] Bangladesh Suppression of Terrorist Offenses Act, art. 4, No. 44 of 1992.
[7] Bangladesh Suppression of Terrorist Offenses Act, arts. 4, 5, No. 44 of 1992; Bangladesh Explosive Substances (Amendment) Act, art. 2, No. 21 of 1987.
[8] Bangladesh Oppression of Women and Children (Special Provisions) Act, art. 6, No. 18 of 1995, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project.
[9] Bangladesh Penal Code, arts. 364(A), 368, No. 45 of 1860.
[10] Bangladesh Intoxicant Control Act, arts. 19, 9, No. 20 of 1990, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project.
[11] Bangladesh Intoxicant Control Act, arts. 19, 9, No. 20 of 1990, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project.
[12] Bangladesh Penal Code, art. 121, No. 45 of 1860.
[13] Bangladesh Official Secrets Act, art. 3, No. 19 of 1923.
[14] Bangladesh Penal Code, art. 132, No. 45 of 1860; Bangladesh Army Act, art. 24, No. 39 of 1952; Bangladesh Navy Ordinance, art. 29, No. 35 of 1961; Bangladesh Air Force Act, art. 34, No. 6 of 1953; The Daily Star, Cabinet okays bill with death penalty clause, http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=128319, Mar. 2, 2010.
[15] Bangladesh Oppression of Women and Children (Special Provisions) Act, art. 10, No. 18 of 1995, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project.
[16] Bangladesh Penal Code, arts. 120, 121, 132, 368, No. 45 of 1860; Bangladesh Oppression of Women and Children (Special Provisions) Act, art. 14, No. 18 of 1995, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project; Bangladesh Suppression of Terrorist Offenses Act, art. 5, No. 44 of 1992, translation: Heidelberg Bangladesh Law Translation Project.
[17] Bangladesh Penal Code, arts. 364(A), 368, No. 45 of 1860.
[18] The Daily Star, Death penalty declared illegal, http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=128499, Mar. 3, 2010.
[19] The Daily Star, Death penalty declared illegal, http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=128499, Mar. 3, 2010.
[20] BBC News, Bangladesh hangs killers of independence leader Mujib, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8483988.stm, Jan. 27, 2010; Haroon Habib, Historic verdict in Bangladesh, Frontline, http://www.thehindu.com/fline/fl1524/15240040.htm, Nov. 21 - Dec. 4, 1998.
[21] BBC News, Bangladesh hangs killers of independence leader Mujib, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8483988.stm, Jan. 27, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in January 2010, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/jan10.html, accessed Mar. 12, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in February 2009, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/feb09.html, accessed Mar. 12, 2010; Richard Clark, Executions in December 2008, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/dec08.html, accessed Mar. 12, 2010.
[22] Capital Punishment U.K., Executions, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/world.html, last accessed Mar. 28, 2011 (the user must navigate to determine executions for each month).
[23] Bangladesh Children Act, arts. 2(f), 51, No. 39 of 1974.
[24] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Bangladesh, paras. 33-34, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.221, Oct. 27, 2003.
[25] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Bangladesh, paras. 46-47, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/BGD/CO/4, Jun. 26, 2009.
[26] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Bangladesh,para. 33, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.221, Oct. 27, 2003; U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, Third and fourth periodic reports of States parties due in 2007, Bangladesh, para. 84, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/BGD/4, Oct. 23, 2008.
[27] Bangladesh Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 382, No. 5 of 1898. Bangladesh Penal Code, art. 53A(1), No. 45 of 1860.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

Sep. 6, 2000. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [4]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [5]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [6]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [7]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [8]

Vote

Against. [9]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [10]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [11]

Vote

Against. [12]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [13]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [14]

Vote

Against. [15]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [16]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [17]

Vote

Against. [18]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [19]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[8] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[9] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[10] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[11] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, includng alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[12] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[13] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[14] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[15] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[16] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[17] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pp. 3-4, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[18] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[19] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Article 32 provides: “No person shall be deprived of life. . . save in accordance with law.” This could imply the constitutionality of the death penalty. Additionally, Article 149 saves the 1860 Penal Code except as modified by law made under the Constitution. This does not elevate the death penalty to constitutional status, but it is constitutional reference to a body of law that includes the death penalty. [1]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Article 25 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh recognizes the United Nations Charter, and Article 47 recognizes humanitarian law and provides that the Constitution will not limit the application of international treaties and the law of war. [2] These provisions do not expressly recognize international human rights law, although they may imply some recognition of international human rights.

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

The most significant change is that under a High Court ruling in the appeal of Sukur Ali, joined or filed by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust in February 2010 (challenging the mandatory death penalty for rape), the mandatory death penalty in Bangladesh is probably unconstitutional, [3] limiting the ambit of the death penalty. Another significant change is that legislation enabling the death penalty for offenses committed by the Bangladesh Guard is pending. This is significant because of the number of massacres and other capital offenses carried out by Bangladesh Guard personnel. [4] Reports also indicate that an anti-terrorism ordinance issued in 2008 may somewhat expand the death penalty for terrorism. [5] Finally, a court ruling on November 19, 2009 (which we had not found as of March 12, 2010) indicates that public execution by firing squad could be a legal form of execution. [6] This ruling may be less significant because reports indicate that authorities have not used it to carry out such executions. [7]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. [8]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

While as of March 12, 2010, we had not found any published opinions, there are at least two important and recent cases concerning the death penalty.

In February 2010, reports indicated that the High Court ruled in the appeal of Sukur Ali, joined or filed by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (challenging the mandatory death penalty for rape), that the mandatory death penalty in Bangladesh is unconstitutional. [9] Presumably, such an opinion discusses the protection against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment, or (somewhat weaker) due process and fair trial protections under Articles 32 and 35 of Bangladesh’s constitution. [10]

In November 2009, reports indicated that the Bangladesh courts recently resolved a long-standing question of whether execution by firing squad was a permissible form of execution under the Bangladesh constitution, ruling that execution by firing squad is constitutional. Presumably, the opinion discusses whether such a method of execution is humane, although journalists reporting on the opinion concentrated on the fact that the government could choose to carry out the executions by hanging if using a firing squad proved too difficult, and the executions were in fact carried out by hanging. [11]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

A searchable database of cases in Bangladesh is available at http://www.clcbd.org/. One limitation to this website is that it is limited to for-fee subscribers.

What is the clemency process?

The Code of Criminal Procedure indicates that executions need not be approved by the executive. [12] The main executive barrier to execution of a death sentence is the prerogative of mercy, granted by the Constitution and defined under the Code of Criminal Procedure and Penal Code. [13] Condemned individuals petition the President for clemency. [14] Additionally, the government (which may mean the legislature or some other executive official) may commute death sentences. [15]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. There is no jury trial under the civilian court system; under the military system, a panel of officers sits in judgment. [16]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

The higher courts in Bangladesh are the High Court Division and the Appellate Court Division of the Supreme Court. Death sentences are submitted by the Court of Session to the High Court Division for confirmation. [17] The Appellate Court Division has jurisdiction to hear all appeals from the High Court, and appeal lies as of right when the High Court has sentenced a person to death. [18]

References

[1] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, arts. 32, 149, Nov. 4, 1972.
[2] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, arts. 25, 47, Nov. 4, 1972.
[3] The Daily Star, Death penalty declared illegal, http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=128499, Mar. 3, 2010.
[4] The Daily Star, Cabinet okays bill with death penalty clause, http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=128319, Mar. 2, 2010.
[5] Human Rights Watch, Bangladesh: Repeal New Terror Law, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/486b3ae6a.html, Jun. 30, 2008.
[6] Ashutosh Sarkar & Chaitanya Chandra Halder, What courts observed, The Daily Star, http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=123951, Jan. 29, 2010.
[7] BBC News, Bangladesh hangs killers of independence leader Mujib, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8483988.stm, Jan. 27, 2010.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action: Five Men Executed in Bangladesh, ASA 13/004/2010, Feb. 1, 2010.
[9] The Daily Star, Death penalty declared illegal, http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=128499, Mar. 3, 2010.
[10] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, arts. 32, 35, Nov. 4, 1972.
[11] Jay Shankar, Bangladesh: Death penalty on army coup leaders, Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aGUsvXhRBGh4, Nov. 19, 2009; Mujib killers’ execution only after review petitions, IANS, http://blog.taragana.com/law/2009/11/23/mujib-killers-execution-only-after-review-petitions-17617/, Nov. 23, 2009; Ashutosh Sarkar & Chaitanya Chandra Halder, What courts observed, The Daily Star, http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=123951, Jan. 29, 2010; BBC News, Bangladesh hangs killers of independence leader Mujib, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8483988.stm, Jan. 27, 2010.
[12] Bangladesh Code of Criminal Procedure, arts. 381-382, No. 5 of 1898.
[13] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, art. 49, Nov. 4, 1972; Bangladesh Code of Criminal Procedure, arts. 401-402A, No. 5 of 1898; Bangladesh Penal Code, art. 54, No. 45 of 1860.
[14] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, Addendum, Communications to and from Governments, p. 18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.
[15] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, art. 49, Nov. 4, 1972; Bangladesh Code of Criminal Procedure, arts. 401-402A, No. 5 of 1898; Bangladesh Penal Code, art. 54, No. 45 of 1860.
[16] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Bangladesh Army Act, arts. 105, 96A, No. 39 of 1952.
[17] Bangladesh Code of Criminal Procedure, art. 379, No. 5 of 1898.
[18] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, art. 103(1), 103(2)(b), Nov. 4, 1972.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Death-sentenced prisoners are incarcerated in Bangladesh’s 8 to 12 central jails (maximum-security facilities). [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

Reports indicate that prison conditions in general are “abysmal,” with overcrowding at nearly three times the prison system’s capacity, cramped cells (in which death-sentenced prisoners are held) with poor ventilation, deficient sanitation and bathroom facilities and inadequate nutrition, water and medical care. Psychological care and work or training activities may be non-existent or insufficient. Overcrowding is so severe that some prisoners have to sleep in shifts, and disease is a serious problem. Bedding may consist of blankets spread on the floor, and prisoners’ meals may be served outdoors, rain or shine. Female prisoners may be incarcerated alongside male prisoners, and this and the practice of assigning male prisoners to cook for and feed female prisoners may continue to expose female prisoners to sexual assault and extortion. Crime and corruption in prisons are serious problems, as is the abuse or torture of prisoners. Guards may favor the use of fetters and corporal punishment, and complaints by prisoners may lead to severe maltreatment. These conditions lead to excessive custodial deaths—in 2009, 50 individuals died “due to alleged illnesses.” Custodial deaths and killings are a serious problem. [2]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes. [3]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, and others are under sentence of death in Bangladesh. [4] An Indian woman was sentenced to death for child trafficking in Bangladesh in June of 2005. Recently, she was acquitted by the Bangladesh High Court on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove that she had abducted the child. There is reason to believe that other Indian nationals face the risk of a death sentence, particularly because Bangladesh law addressing human trafficking sometimes assigns the death penalty, and the Bangladesh government believes Indian nationals are likely to be involved in human trafficking in Bangladesh. [5]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

While women may be sentenced to death, as of March 12, 2010 we did not find any reports of women sentenced to death.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

As of March 12, 2010 we did not find reports of individuals sentenced to death for crimes committed as juveniles. The final observations of the U.N. Human Rights Council in its 2009 Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Bangladesh indicate that Bangladesh has instituted a new birth registry system and urge Bangladesh to implement that system to assure children’s rights. [6]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

As of March 12, 2010 we did not find any reports on the racial or ethnic composition of death row. [7]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Historically and recently, defendants rarely receive public defenders, although capital defendants have a statutory right to public defense. [8] Bangladesh’s position (expressed in its reservations to the ICCPR) on public defenders is that Bangladesh aspires to fully implement the right to a public defender but that Bangladesh currently lacks the financial wherewithal to assure that right. [9]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Historically and recently, defendants rarely receive public defenders, although capital defendants have a statutory right to public defense. [10] Bangladesh’s position is that Bangladesh aspires to fully implement the statutory right to a public defender but that Bangladesh currently lacks the financial wherewithal to assure that right. [11]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

Currently, the lack of legal representation renders the judicial system “virtually inaccessible to the vast majority of the poor and the disadvantaged,” although defendants are granted access to attorneys when they can obtain them. [12] Attorneys, when they are used, should be able to avail themselves of prosecution evidence; however, in practice, problems with victim intimidation, witness tampering, missing evidence, and extensive corruption and subservience to ruling politicians could be an impediment to development of a legitimate, quality defense and fair trial, [13] and under such conditions it is debatable how easily criminal defense attorneys are able to develop professionally.

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Reports indicate that roughly two thirds of Bangladesh’s 71,000 to 85,000 prisoners are pre-trial detainees, accounting for all or most of the overcrowding in Bangladesh’s prisons. [14] The government sometimes held innocent citizens in detention for no other purpose than to coerce statements about other suspects. Witness tampering, destruction of evidence and victim intimidation are serious problems. While defendants are presumed innocent, backlogs are so severe that a defendant has often served the sentence for a crime before he has been tried for it. [15]

The justice system is pervasively corrupt due to bribery and political influence, [16] and the trial, conviction and appeals of the 1975 coup and murder defendants were marked by extensive executive interference with the rule of law and the judiciary—the beneficiaries of the coup exempted the defendants from liability, and the opposition party, led by the victim’s daughter, pressed for liability and execution, at times violently, once again in power. However, it should be noted that the High Court acquitted some defendants in that case despite the tension and violence surrounding the case. [17] The U.N. Human Rights Council issued communications in 2006 commenting extensively on the executive’s virtually unbridled constitutional power to remove and appoint judges according to rules promulgated by the executive—a power which undermines Bangladesh’s constitutional separation of judicial and executive powers. In response, Bangladesh acknowledged problems with the independence of its judiciary and outlined some preliminary legal measures instituted to increase the independence of judges. [18]

References

[1] U.N.D.P., Human Security in Bangladesh: In Search of Justice and Dignity, p. 80, http://www.undp.org.bd/info/hsr/, Sep. 2002; Odhikar, Human Rights Report 2009: Odhikar Report on Bangladesh, p. 40, http://www.odhikar.org/documents/2009/English_report/HRR_2009.pdf, Jan. 1, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Odhikar, Human Rights Report 2009: Odhikar Report on Bangladesh, pp. 21, 40, http://www.odhikar.org/documents/2009/English_report/HRR_2009.pdf, Jan. 1, 2010; U.N.D.P., Human Security in Bangladesh: In Search of Justice and Dignity, pp. 82-86, http://www.undp.org.bd/info/hsr/, Sep. 2002.
[3] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[4] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[5] Indian woman sentenced to death for child trafficking, The Times of India, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-1144001,prtpage-1.cms, June 16, 2005; Indian national acquitted of charge, The Daily Star, http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=87057, May 6, 2009; Md. Alamgir, Country Paper on Combating Trafficking in Women and Children in Bangladesh, http://bit.ly/cwzgY1, Jul. 10, 2004.
[6] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review: Bangladesh, para. 94(16), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/18, Oct. 5, 2009.
[7] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Bangladesh, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3452.htm, May 24, 2010.
[8] U.N.D.P., Human Security in Bangladesh: In Search of Justice and Dignity, pp. 34, 47, 48 http://www.undp.org.bd/info/hsr/, Sep. 2002; U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[9] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[10] U.N.D.P., Human Security in Bangladesh: In Search of Justice and Dignity, pp. 34, 47, 48 http://www.undp.org.bd/info/hsr/, Sep. 2002; U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[11] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[12] U.N.D.P., Human Security in Bangladesh: In Search of Justice and Dignity, pp. 34, 42, 47, http://www.undp.org.bd/info/hsr/, Sep. 2002; U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment & Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[13] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[14] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Odhikar, Human Rights Report 2009: Odhikar Report on Bangladesh, p. 40, http://www.odhikar.org/documents/2009/English_report/HRR_2009.pdf, Jan. 1, 2010.
[15] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment & Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[16] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment & Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/sca/136085.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[17] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, Addendum, Communications to and from Governments, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.
[18] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development Report Of The Special Rapporteur On The Independence Of Judges And Lawyers, Leandro Despouy Addendum Situations In Specific Countries Or Territories, pp. 18-19, 24-25, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/8/4/Add.1, May 28, 2008.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

Although Bangladesh acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 2000 [1] and thus should have been reviewed in the following year or so, the Human Rights Committee had issued no decisions or observations on Bangladesh as of July 8, 2010.

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

The Committee on the Rights of the Child has repeatedly expressed concern that Bangladesh law does not clearly preclude the death penalty for offenses defendants commit while under the age of 18, although Bangladesh asserts that in practice such individuals are not executed. [2] The Committee on the Rights of the Child has repeatedly expressed concern that Bangladesh law does not clearly preclude the death penalty for offenses defendants commit while under the age of 18, although Bangladesh asserts that in practice such individuals are not executed. [3]

The Human Rights Council, in its 2009 Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Bangladesh, encouraged Bangladesh to continue implementing birth registry measures designed to protect the rights of children, and recommended that Bangladesh institute a moratorium on executions, restrict the scope of the death penalty to comply with minimal international standards, and abolish the death penalty. [4]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 4, 2010.
[2] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Bangladesh, paras. 33-34, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.221, Oct. 27, 2003.
[3] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Bangladesh, paras. 46-47, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/BGD/CO/4, Jun. 26, 2009.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review: Bangladesh, paras. 94(16), 94(19), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/18, Oct. 5, 2009.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

None.

Helpful Reports and Publications

We found no extensively useful current reports. However, regular reports are issued by Odhikar (http://www.odhikar.org/), the U.S. Department of State (http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/), and various U.N. committees and personnel (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/BDIndex.aspx).

A lengthy report of occasional relevance and waning currency is: U.N.D.P., Human Security in Bangladesh: In Search of Justice and Dignity, http://www.undp.org.bd/info/hsr/, Sep. 2002.

The U.N.D.P. may release other helpful reports: http://www.undp.org.bd/index.php?cal=c.

Additional notes regarding this country

The development of Bangladesh’s government, the independence of its judiciary and to a large extent the application of portions of its criminal law—including prosecution for high-profile capital offenses—has been influenced by political struggles that are often attended by serious violence and impunity. [1]

References

[1] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, Addendum, Communications to and from Governments, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/26/Add.1, Jun. 18, 2010.

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