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11 March, 2019 10:17:40 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 March, 2019 10:45:58 PM

No barrier to investigate atrocities against Rohingyas: ICC

'It's not about Myanmar; it's about individual's criminal responsibility'
Independent Online Desk
No barrier to investigate atrocities against Rohingyas: ICC
File photo/AFP

The Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC) does not see any barrier in carrying out "preliminary examination" and subsequent investigation into alleged atrocities committed against Rohingyas by the Myanmar military though Myanmar is not a State Party to the Rome Statute.

"The ICC process is not about Myanmar, it's not about Myanmar as a state. It's about individual's criminal responsibility," ICC's Director of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division Phakiso Mochochoko told reporters at a city hotel on Monday evening, reports UNB.

The delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to leave here on Tuesday completing their Bangladesh visit from March 6-11.

Explaining further about individual criminal responsibility, he said it is all about the people who are responsible, who have given instructions, who have commanded and the people who did all other things and facilitated to commit these alleged crimes.

Mochochoko said it will not in any way be a hindrance despite the fact that Myanmar is not a State Party and will not cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor into this.

Expecting cooperation from everyone, he said Myanmar's noncooperation might present a little bit of challenge for them in terms of investigation but there is no barrier to go ahead without cooperation from Myanmar.

Mochochoko said this is not the first time they engaged in this kind of process but they had got many other situations where they had been engaged. "Almost all of them have come to fruition - in one way or another."

He said the independent and impartial preliminary examination of the situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar is going on and will follow its course.

"A preliminary examination is not an investigation, but an assessment of the Rome Statute criteria to decide whether an investigation into the situation at hand is warranted," Mochochoko said.

Therefore, during their Bangladesh mission that ended on Monday, he said the delegation did not collect any evidence or perform any other investigative activities as it is the standard practice of the Office.

Earlier, the ICC wanted to know Bangladesh's opinion on whether The Hague-based court has the jurisdiction to run a case on atrocities against Rohingyas.

The pretrial chamber of the ICC sent a letter to Bangladesh in this regard on May 7, 2018 seeking opinion on three specific matters by June 11, either publicly or confidentially.

Bangladesh responded to the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Rohingya issue, as the country is seeking a "sustainable solution" to the crisis.

Responding to a question, Mochochoko said the preliminary examination, if all legal criteria are met, will proceed to an investigation saying the Prosecutor will have no alternative but to open an investigation.

Asked whether ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will visit Bangladesh, he said it is a normal practice to visit "situation countries" to engage with victims and others.

The purpose of their first visit was to engage with relevant stakeholders, explain the preliminary examination process, and travel to the refugee camps with a view to informing the Office's ongoing assessment.

On behalf of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the delegation expressed its gratitude to the government of Bangladesh for providing its support to this visit and facilitating meetings with the relevant national authorities.

During this past week, the delegation had constructive exchanges with senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; and Home Affairs; as well as various law enforcement agencies.

The delegation also had the opportunity to exchange views with representatives of various agencies of the United Nations and members of the diplomatic community, as well as academics from the University of Dhaka's Centre for Genocide Studies.

In Cox's Bazar, the delegation visited the refugee camps and met government authorities, humanitarian agencies and NGOs, as well as a number of victims' representatives.

The delegation listened carefully to their views and concerns, Mochochoko said adding that the insights gained from the visit will continue to inform the Office's ongoing assessment of the situation.

The field visit enabled the Office, however, to hold productive meetings in Bangladesh, and fully appreciate the sheer magnitude and severity of this human tragedy, he said.

Mochochoko said the Office is committed to making continued progress on the preliminary examination process and is grateful to the authorities of Bangladesh and many other partners for their strong support.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression.

Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC's jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire; Mali; Georgia and Burundi.

Pre-Trial Chamber II is seized of the Prosecutor's request for authorisation to commence an investigation into the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bangladesh/Myanmar; Colombia; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine; the Philippines; Nigeria; Ukraine, and Venezuela.







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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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