The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested cooperation from the Bangladesh Government as it considers initiation of an investigation into alleged human rights violations against the Rohingya people.
ICC deputy prosecutor James Stewart said in a statement in Dhaka on Thursday: “We are here to engage with the government and other relevant stakeholders including in affected areas, to explain and answer questions on the ICC process, and where we are currently in the judicial proceedings.
The deputy prosecutor’s visit to Bangladesh came after the ICC Prosecutor's Office said in June that it would call for a full investigation into crimes allegedly suffered by tens of thousands of Muslim minority Rohingyans when they were deported in August 2017 from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
He read findings from ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s report, which said: “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 Rohingya through violating their right of return to their state of origin.”
Stewart said that Myanmar is not part of the ICC and added: “Bangladesh is a state party, so any potential investigation could only focus on crimes allegedly committed in part on the territory of Bangladesh.”
If sufficient elements are collected for the initiation of the court investigation, it will be done "independently, impartially and objectively, these are principles that guide all our decisions and actions," he added.
The ICC, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, determined in September that it could exercise its jurisdiction over the case, after Myanmar rejected the investigation as it was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the founding charter of the court.
However, the court could open an investigation because the crimes could have been committed in neighboring Bangladesh.
Some 700,000 Rohingya fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh from August 25, 2017, following a military campaign in response to an alleged attack by a Rohingya insurgent group against police and border posts. EFE-EPA