Envoy briefs US Congressman on ICT

Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA Akramul Qader on Wednesday met Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN5) and briefed him on the constitution of the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), its legal premises as well as the country’s current situation.He also updated him on the ongoing GSP case with the USTR and sought his intervention in this regard, according to a message received here on Thursday.
Ambassador Qader handed over the Congressman some documents in regards to the ICT and a paper related to Bangladesh’s submission to the USTR on GSP.
While providing a brief overview on different aspects of the ICT, including its commitment to fair and transparent trials, Ambassador Qader said the ICT’s primary mandate is to bring to justice the local collaborators of Pakistani occupation army during the War of Liberation in 1971 for crimes committed against humanity.
He added that the mass killings and atrocities orchestrated in 1971 devalued general principles of humanity, particularly because those were carried out in a planned way on the basis of ethnicity, religion and race.
He mentioned that the present government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, made an electoral pledge to bring to justice the war criminals of 1971, and she received an overwhelming public mandate to try the criminals.
He offered a detailed account on the recent verdicts of the ICTs, the context and justifications of the judgments as well as the unprecedented violence and atrocities by extremist groups against the law enforcing agencies, and minority communities in defiance of the verdicts of the ICTs.
On the US-GSP case with the USTR, the Ambassador stressed that Bangladesh’s exclusion from the list of beneficiary nations would bring in a serious market access and image concern for the country.
He pointed out that the US-GSP facility does not cover the readymade garments export to the USA, and Bangladesh, in fact, pays an exorbitant amount of over USD 700 m as tariff penalty for its 4.87 billion USD worth RMG exports to the US market.
As such, American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (AFL-CIO) petition against Bangladesh has a serious disconnect.
Ambassador Qader also apprised the Congressman of the government and industry level measures taken to improve the working conditions, safety measures and benefit packages of the RMG workers.
He assured that Bangladesh is on the right trajectory of improvement in terms of government’s oversight and industry level awareness on maintaining world class labour standards.
Given adequate time and enabling environment, Bangladesh aspires to fulfill its commitments to the poor workers in the country as well as to international community, he added.
The Congressman took a serious interest in Ambassador Qader’s deliberations and assured him of seriously looking into the matter. UNB

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