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UN rights chief slams political leaders for death in violence

Staff Correspondent

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has warned politicians in Bangladesh that they risk facing prosecution at the International Criminal Court based in the Hague for election time violence.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Pillary pointed out that Bangladesh is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  
‘In other situations, we have seen cases of political or election related violence where the perpetrators of such acts -- including political leadership -- have faced prosecution,’ she said.
Pillay was referring to six senior Kenyan politicians, including former ministers, who were initially charged with crimes against humanity at the international crimes court for offences they are
alleged to have committed after elections that took place in December 2007 that resulted in as many as 1200 deaths.
In Bangladesh, dozens of people have died in recent weeks in violence primarily blamed on supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami who are demanding that an election takes place under a neutral government.
In the statement, given five days before the visit of Oscar Fernandez-Taranco the UN’s assistant secretary general of political affairs, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was deeply worried by the rising levels of political violence in Bangladesh resulting from the major parties failing to resolve their differences over the conduct of elections.
‘In recent weeks, supporters of both parties have been clashing with each other and with the security forces. Scores of people have been killed, hundreds injured, and there has been extensive destruction of property,’ the statement reads.
‘In the past week, we have seen acts as extreme as protestors throwing Molotov cocktails onto public buses without allowing the occupants to escape, leaving women and children with horrific burns,’ the High Commissioner said.  ‘Such levels of violence are deeply shocking for the Bangladeshi people, the vast majority of whom want -- and deserve -- a peaceful and inclusive election.’
The High Commissioner also expressed concern about the on-going arrest and detention of key opposition leaders by the law enforcement agencies.  ‘This can further inflame the situation and rule out any possibility for engagement and dialogue between the main political parties,’ she said.
‘Whatever their differences, political leaders on both sides must halt their destructive brinkmanship, which is pushing Bangladesh dangerously close to a major crisis. Instead, they must fulfil their responsibility and use their influence to bring this violence to an immediate halt and seek a solution to this crisis through dialogue,’ Pillay said. 

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