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17 July, 2019 00:00 00 AM

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ROHINGYA GENOCIDE TRIAL

High hopes as ICC team reaches Dhaka

DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, Dhaka
High hopes as ICC team reaches Dhaka

Experts say the visit of the delegation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) would exert extra pressure on Myanmar as the ICC is going to start the trial process of the genocide committed in Rakhine state, which led to the expulsion of the Rohingya community. Though Myanmar is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, yet the ICC can hold a trial for the genocide of the Rohingya community unleashed by the Myanmar army in 2017, they said.

They said the Bangladesh government should provide all necessary information and full cooperation to the ICC team so that they can go back to the ICC with strong evidence to try different crimes committed against the Rohingya community, which has been deprived of citizenship.

An ICC delegation, led by its deputy prosecutor James Kirkpatrick Stewart, has already reached Dhaka on Tuesday to talk in detail with government officials and representatives of different international organisations on the persecution of Rohingyas and other related issues.

As part of their seven-day visit, the delegation will talk to high-ranking officials of the home, law and foreign ministries.

Besides, they would also visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar to garner first-hand information about the plight of the Rohingyas and how they were maltreated in Rakhine State before they fled to Bangladesh to save their lives.

Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor of the International Relations department of Dhaka University (DU), told The Independent yesterday: “It’s a major development that the ICC team is visiting Bangladesh to glean information and evidence regarding the crimes committed against the Rohingya community.”

“The prosecution will put extra pressure on Myanmar. This trial especially will draw the attention of the near friends of Myanmar. It will also put pressure on the business community that has business and trade relations with Myanmar. The trial is necessary for crimes against humanity,” he added.

“Though it will take time for the ICC to start the trial, it’s a good start that the ICC has been involved in the prosecution of the crimes committed against Rohingyas,” he added.

The professor also said, “The Bangladesh government should fully cooperate with the visiting ICC delegation with all evidence so that they can submit concrete reports based on the evidence.”

He hoped that the trial at the ICC in Hague would pave the path for the repatriation process of the Rohingya community with a permanent solution.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on July 4 requested the Court’s Judges to authorise an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity,

namely deportation, other inhuman acts and persecution committed against Rohingya people.

More specifically, 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 on the territory of Bangladesh—a State Party to the Rome Statute—and within the context of two recent waves of violence in Rakhine State on the territory of Myanmar, as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events, according to the ICC on 4 July.

The requested authorisation to investigate the situation covers the period from 9 October 2016.

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 ICC said.

On 9 April 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 second phase of the preliminary examination of this situation started in 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, “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.”

Following the Office’s preliminary examination process, the Prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that at least 700,000 Rohingya people were deported from Myanmar to Bangladesh through a range of coercive acts and that great suffering or serious injury has been inflicted on the Rohingyas by violating their right to return to their state of origin.

More specifically, 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 ICC said.

As Myanmar is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, but Bangladesh is, it is important to bear in mind that the authorisation to investigate, if granted by the 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.

Investigating deportation will, however, mean taking a close look at the alleged violence that left the Rohingya no genuine choice but to flee Myanmar.

Furthermore, the Prosecutor has determined that there is no substantial reason to believe that the opening of an investigation would not serve the interests of justice, taking into account the gravity of the crimes and the interests of victims.

Under the applicable rules, the Prosecutor also notified victims or their legal representatives of her intention to request authorisation to initiate an investigation into the situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar, informing them that they have until 28 October 2019 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.

Following such a situation, the ICC delegation in Dhaka will now talk to the government officials and other stakeholders, including Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, to obtain a broad view of the situation before filing a report with the ICC.

 

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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.

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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