Crimes against RohingyasICC probe to begin after October

Bangla Tribune Report
Published : 18:41, Jul 18, 2019 | Updated : 18:52, Jul 18, 2019

Rohingya refugee children play at the Palongkhali refugee camp near Cox`s Bazar, Bangladesh December 22, 2017. REUTERS/File PhotoThe International Criminal Court (ICC) is likely to start its investigation on the alleged crimes against Rohingya after October of this year.
“We have asked for this decision (to investigate) as quickly as possible after the end of October,” ICC deputy prosecutor James Stuart told the media on Thursday (Jul 18) at Dhaka.
“If the pre-trial chamber grants us the authorisation to open an investigation we hope to be ready very quickly to engage in the investigation,” he added.
The ICC delegation came to Dhaka on Jul 16 to discuss a memorandum of understanding with the Bangladesh government to operate in the country.
“Memorandum of understanding is a normal practice for everywhere we are working,” he said.
A house is seen on fire in Gawduthar village, Maungdaw township, in the north of Rakhine state, Myanmar. REUTERS/FILE PHOTO“I really can’t go into details more than that. We keep this memorandum of understanding confidential for obvious reasons, but that’s quite a normal practice for us to engage in,” he said.
On the investigation in Myanmar, he said, “At this stage we have approached the government of Myanmar. So far they have not wanted to engage with us, but we remain available to discuss issues with them.”
On the victim’s submission to the court, he said, “The pre-trial chamber in this case is very anxious to hear from Rohingya people through various mechanisms about whether or not an investigation should be opened.”
They have given time for that to happen and we expect that those submissions from victims should be with the pre-trial chamber by the end of October, he added.
Responding to queries on the duration of investigation, he said, “I cannot predict because the investigation will take the time it will take depending on many circumstances such as cooperation, security, other issues that we may have to confront during the investigation.”
Rohingya refugees play football at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox`s Bazaar, Bangladesh, March 27, 2018. REUTERSAbout ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensuda’s request to open an investigation, he said, “The judges will consider Prosecutor Bensuda’s request and decide whether to grant the authorization.”
“Our mandate is purely legal. The ICC, and the office of the prosecutor have no political role to play,” he said.
Earlier in March, an ICC team led by its Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda travelled to Bangladesh and visited the Rohingya camps for a “preliminary investigation”.
On Jun 26, ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda said in a statement that she would ask judges for permission to investigate crimes that had "at least one element" in Bangladesh, which is a member of the ICC.
She added that her investigation would cover crimes that also took place "within the context of two waves of violence in Rakhine State on the territory of Myanmar.”
The war crimes court said in a separate statement it had assigned a three-judge panel to hear Bensouda's request.
If granted, the ICC would become the first international court to look into alleged atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority of Myanmar.
The Rohingya settlement on the no man`s land between Bangladesh and Myanmar in Bandarban is waterlogged due to the heavy rainfall. BANGLA TRIBUNEAlthough Myanmar is not a member of the court, the ICC in September determined it has jurisdiction over some crimes in the region when they had a cross-border nature, given that Bangladesh is a member.
"The Court has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people," it said in a September 2018 ruling.
"The reason is that an element of this crime - the crossing of a border - took place on the territory of a State party (Bangladesh)."
The following day, Myanmar's government said it rejected the court's jurisdiction.
An independent UN fact-finding mission in August concluded that Myanmar's military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya.
With 122 members, the UN-backed ICC is a court of last resort, only stepping in when member countries are found to be unwilling or unable to prosecute war crimes on their territory -- or when a case is referred to it by the Security Council.
That occurs only rarely as the United States, Russia and China are not ICC members, and can use their veto powers to prevent a referral, as Russia has done with Syria.