Convicted war criminals can now join BNP
War criminals convicted under Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order, 1972 can now have membership or leadership of BNP's committees at any level since the party has deleted the barring provision from its constitution.
The war criminals of 1971 will also be eligible for getting BNP nomination to contest parliamentary elections.
The national council of the party on Tuesday approved the BNP national standing committee's proposal for abolishing the provision.
The deleted provision said an individual convicted under the president order no-8 of 1972, which is Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order, will be disqualified from being a member of the party's national council, national executive and standing committees and any committee at any level or being a candidate to contest parliamentary elections.
Barrister Mahbubuddin Khokan, a member of the sub-committee formed ahead of BNP's national council to prepare the draft for constitution amendment, yesterday said it was scrapped to avoid redundancy.
He said the provision was included in the BNP's constitution in 1979 as there was a need for it at that time.
"But now there are no war criminals in Bangladesh. People who were war criminals have already died," Khokan, also a BNP lawmaker, said.
Talking to The Daily Star, eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik, however, expressed surprise at the deletion of the provision from BNP's constitution.
"My understanding would be that probably there are persons who were convicted on charge of war crimes but now would be included in any committee of BNP. Therefore, the provision has been omitted to remove the bar on them," Malik said over telephone.
Contacted by The Daily Star yesterday, Dr MA Hasan, convenor of the war crimes fact finding committee, said over 750 people were convicted on charge of war crimes under Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order.
"By deleting the provision from its constitution, BNP is encouraging war criminals unethically to do politics," he said.
The amendments brought to the Representation of the People Order (RPO) before the December 29 general election imposed a permanent ban on convicted war criminals to contest parliamentary elections.
Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunal) Order was enacted in 1972, just after the country's victory in the Liberation War, and the trial of war criminals began.
But the bloody changeover on August 15, 1975 halted the trial as the then president Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem repealed the act by promulgating an ordinance that stopped all investigations and other proceedings of the trial.
Shahdeen Malik said repealing the act to try war criminals does not change their conviction. "An individual convicted on charge of war crimes will have to prove his innocence to get rid of the consequence of the conviction," he said.
The BNP, however, has kept a few other provisions regarding disqualification unchanged, showing its tough stance against corruption.
According to these provisions, individuals who have become bankrupt or have been proved mentally unsound or known as corrupt and notorious in the society will be disqualified from being a member of any committee of the party and also from contesting parliamentary elections on BNP's nomination.
Besides, a BNP member in his or her identity card form has to promise never to tolerate corruption.
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