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The Challenges of Long-Delayed Prosecutions in Fighting Impunity in Bangladesh

Zammit Borda, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-0685-3859 & Hosen, S. (2022). The Challenges of Long-Delayed Prosecutions in Fighting Impunity in Bangladesh. Leiden Journal of International Law, 35(4), pp. 987-1014. doi: 10.1017/s0922156522000346


This article focuses on the challenges of ‘long-delayed’ prosecutions, that is, criminal prosecutions that begin decades after the conflict, using the experience of the International Criminal Tribunal for Bangladesh (ICT-BD) as a case study. This issue is still an insufficiently discussed topic even though such prosecutions are likely to become more common in the future. The focus of this article is mainly on the legal and broader, transitional justice challenges of long-delayed prosecutions at the ICT-BD. The article examines how such prosecutions have had a contradictory, twofold effect: on the one hand, they have partially broken the endemic culture of impunity that was allowed to prevail for decades in Bangladesh. On the other hand, however, they have been highly controversial and may have served to deepen alienation of the Islamist opposition in Bangladesh. The article concludes that the question of whether long-delayed prosecutions are desirable for a particular society remains highly context-dependent and, in some cases, mechanisms other than criminal trials may be better suited to dealing with the past.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Foundation of the Leiden Journal of International Law in association with the Grotius Centre for International Law, Leiden University. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Long Delay; Criminal Prosecutions; Conflict; Human Rights Violations; Evidence; Bangladesh
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JX International law
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
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