'Most importantly, it might pave the way for the Rohingyas, who suffered extremely to get justice they deserve'
Hundreds of Rohingya refugees shout slogans as they protest against their repatriation at the Unchiprang camp in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar on November 15 REUTERSThe International Criminal Court (ICC) is exploring ways to conduct investigations into the forced deportations of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity, a top diplomat at the Foreign Ministry told the Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.
“This is our best bet to bring those responsible on the other side of the border to account for their crimes,” he said, expressing optimism that the ICC investigation will help solve the Rohingya crisis Bangladesh is facing without being a party to it.
“Most importantly, it might pave the way for the Rohingyas, who suffered extremely to get justice they deserve,” he added.
The diplomat did not specify the date and time of beginning and completion of the investigation.
“If you look at past instances you will see that the ICC investigations are always time-consuming. It does not have its own resources. The court gets the investigations done by the parties of the state,” he explained.
“Though time consuming, I think it’s worth it. Think about the implications worldwide if the ICC in one year or so, issues an arrest warrant against one of the generals.”
“The ministry and our embassy in The Hague, Netherlands where the ICC is based, are following the developments and we stand ready to provide any assistance in regards to the investigation,” said the diplomat.
Responding to a query, he said: “I don’t have any idea if anyone from the ICC visited Bangladesh in respect of the investigation.”
On September 18, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a statement stating that a preliminary examination into the allegations of crimes committed by Myanmar in forcing deportation of Rohingyas from Rakhine to Cox’s Bazar had begun.
“Since the end of 2017, my Office has received a number of communicationsand reports concerning crimes allegedly committed against the Rohingya population in Myanmar and their deportation to Bangladesh,” she said in the statement.
“The review of these communications, which constitutes the first phase of my office’s preliminary examination activities, shed light on a preliminary legal issue concerning the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”), which I deemed appropriate to bring to the attention of the Court’s judges,” said the prosecutor.
“Having received confirmation from the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I that the Court may indeed exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, as well as potentially other crimes under article 7 of the Rome Statute, I have decided to proceed to the next phase of the preliminary examination process and to carry out a full-fledged preliminary examination of the situation at hand,” she said.
On September 6, the ICC, in response to a request from the prosecutor Bensouda, ruled that the court had jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya people as a possible crime against humanity.
Although Myanmar is not a member of court, Bangladesh is, and the cross-border nature of deportation was sufficient for jurisdiction, it said in its ruling.
“The Court has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people,” a three-judge panel said in a written summary, adding, “The reason is that an element of this crime - the crossing of a border - took place on the territory of a State party (Bangladesh).”