International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Does Age Matter?

AKM Yusuf, one of the top leaders of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami died February 9th. Yusuf was indicted May 12th, 2013 on 15 war crimes charges by the UN supported International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh set up in 2009 to investigate the crimes against humanity committed during Bangladesh’s war against Pakistan in 1971. According to a report entitled “A Country Full of Corpses,” published in 1971: “The extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazi regime, the atomic crisis of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the massacre of Biafra, the napalm on Vietnam, all the great genocides of humanity have found a new equivalent: East Pakistan.” The tribunal was initially well received, but has since been accused of problems with fairness and transparency. Despite the problems with the trial, Yusuf’s part in the genocide has not been called into question. Recently his defense team argued that he should be granted bail immediately because of his age. Should the age of the defendant be taken into account? Should the year the crimes were committed in be taken into account? As we saw in the Khmer Rouge trials one of the defendants was acquitted because she had Alzheimer’s and wasn’t coherent enough to stand trial. Do victims receive justice if the defendant is 80+ years of age, sentenced to 40 years in prison, goes to jail for a year and then dies? I think that Yusuf’s death is just another example of the importance of alternative forms of justice, such as truth commissions and reparations. 



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