ICC team arrives to investigate Rohingya atrocities
An investigation team of the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday on a weeklong visit to Bangladesh to conclude an investigation into atrocities against Rohingyas.
ICC's Deputy Prosecutor James Kirkpatrick Stewart is leading the team that will visit Rohingya camps to see the situation on ground and talk to senior government officials and representatives of international organisations over the Rohingya issue.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda considers that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in relation to the alleged deportation of Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh and related crimes committed in the context of the 2016 and 2017 waves of violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar.
On April 9 last year, the prosecutor filed a request with the court's judges for a legal ruling on the question of jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
The prosecutor's request follows her office's thorough preliminary examination which, in its assessment, concluded that the legal conditions required under the Rome Statute to open an investigation have been met.
"The second phase of the preliminary examination of this situation started last September, following the judges' ruling in response to that request, which confirmed that the court may assert jurisdiction pursuant to article 12(2)(a) of the Statute," ICC release said.
According to the article , "if at least one element of a crime within the jurisdiction of the court or part of such a crime is committed on the territory of a state party to the Statute", this allowed the ICC prosecutor allowed to starts the investigation although Myanmar is not at all party here.
"As Myanmar is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, but Bangladesh is, it is important to keep in mind that the authorisation to investigate, if granted by judges, would not extend to all crimes potentially committed in Myanmar, but will focus on crimes allegedly committed in part on the territory of Bangladesh, according to the ICC statement.
Although the coercive acts forcing the Rohingya population to flee took place on the territory of Myanmar, the victims crossed the border-an essential element for the crime of deportation-by entering into the territory of Bangladesh, according to a media statement of the ICC.
The prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that at least 700,000 Rohingyas were deported from Myanmar to Bangladesh through a range of coercive acts and that great suffering or serious injuries have been inflicted on the Rohingyas through violating their right to return to their state of origin.
"The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that, in the context of the 2017 wave of violence, the following crimes were committed, in part on the territory of Myanmar and in part on the territory of Bangladesh," the statement said.
"The request seeks authorisation from the court's judges to open an investigation into alleged crimes within the jurisdiction of the court in which at least one element occurred in the territory of Bangladesh and within the context of two recent waves of violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events," an official said.
According to the schedule of the team, the ICC delegation members are scheduled to hold a meeting with Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque at state guesthouse Padma at 9:30am on Wednesday.
Later, they will meet Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan at his Secretariat office at 12pm and Law Minister Anisul Huq in Gulshan at 3pm on the same day.
The ICC delegation will have an internal meeting on Thursday and leave for Cox's Bazar on Friday afternoon.
They will visit Rohingya camps and hold a meeting with government authorities there on Saturday.
On Sunday, the ICC delegation members will hold meetings with Cox's Bazar DC, Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) and regional heads of Rapid action Battalion (Rab), BGB and acting superintendent of police in Cox's Bazar.
As per the applicable rules, the prosecutor also notified victims or their legal representatives, of her intention to request authorization to initiate an investigation in the situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar informing them that they have until October 28 to submit representations to the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III on her request.
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 the crime of aggression.
They are scheduled to leave Dhaka on Monday (July 22).