LEADING INTERNATIONAL BARRISTER CALLS FOR BANGLADESHI FOREIGN MINISTER TO APOLOGISE AND WITHDRAW MISLEADING STATEMENTS MADE DURING BIRMINGHAM VISIT

20 Dec
PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

19/12/12

LEADING INTERNATIONAL BARRISTER CALLS FOR BANGLADESHI FOREIGN MINISTER TO APOLOGISE AND WITHDRAW MISLEADING STATEMENTS MADE DURING BIRMINGHAM VISIT

Toby Cadman speaking in a Conference, beside him The then Registrar of Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal later appointed as a Judge at the Tribunal No.2, Mr Shahunur Islam

Toby Cadman, a barrister on the defence team at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh, claims Foreign Minister Dipu Moni’s allegations of foreign lawyers misrepresenting themselves to gain visas are completely unfounded

Yesterday the Bangladeshi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dipu Moni, during a visit to the Council Chamber of Birmingham City Council, misled her audience when questioned about the Bangladeshi government’s refusal of entry to foreign observers at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh. In response to a question concerning the absence of international observers, the Minister replied:

‘There can be observers, there is no problem with observers, the only problem was when somebody, actually from this country, some lawyers went to Bangladesh and violated immigration laws, they misrepresented themselves, they went there as tourists, they hid their identity … So those people who violated the law, who misrepresented, who hid their real identity, who tried to create problems in the courtrooms, obviously they’re not allowed to go in by the immigration [sic] … if there are observers, they are most welcome to go and see these trials.’

In light of the Foreign Minister’s statement, Toby Cadman, a British barrister on the defence team, today publicly refuted these claims. Mr Cadman had been granted a visa on arrival on four previous occasions to Bangladesh. However on 5th August 2011, and accompanied by the British consul, he was held at Dhaka airport for ten hours and presented with a document signed by the Home Minister barring him from entry to the country. Mr Cadman and his legal team have not been granted a visa since. At no stage has Mr Cadman ever misled immigration authorities in Bangladesh in order to secure a visa.

Mr Cadman stated today: ‘It is scandalous that an official of such high office could wholly misrepresent the facts around the denial of visas to international legal officials at the International Crimes Tribunal.’

Although Mr Cadman was not directly named by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he added: ‘It is clear to whom Dipu Moni’s allegations are aimed. They are clear misrepresentations and an attack on the credibility of lawyers like myself who have worked tirelessly to ensure the defendants are given adequate legal representation – something that continues to be denied to them today.’

Mr Cadman continued: ‘I immediately call for the Foreign Minister to withdraw this statement and issue an apology to myself and others who have been denied entry to Bangladesh on baseless grounds. It may also be prudent for Dipu Moni to apologise to Birmingham Council. It is a shame she has used such a prestigious platform to peddle what can only be described as state propaganda.’

ENDS

Note for Editors

1. Video footage of the exchange at The Council Chamber of Birmingham City Council on Tuesday can be found athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBtgKGkmRRk

2. The International Criminal Tribunal in Bangladesh was put in place in 2010 by the current Awami League Government to try perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimesagainst humanity during the Independence War of 1971. There have been a series of controversies surrounding the tribunal in recent months, including the abduction of a key prosecution witness on 5th November 2012 and the resignation of the Chairman last week.

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