The International Criminal Court’s prosecution office yesterday said their planned investigation into the atroc-ities on Rohingyas would be completely impartial and non-political as their officials were now on a visit to Bangladesh to engage with stakeholders including the victims.
“We will work in strict conformity with the law, which in our case is the legal framework of the treaty of the ICC,” visiting ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart told a press briefing in the capital yesterday.
He said the prosecutor office’s “mandate is purely legal” and it “has no political role” to play in investigating alleged violence against Rohingyas while they were obligated to perform their job “independently, impartially and objectively”.
“We do not…and cannot participate in national political debates or considerations of relations between states. Our mandate is completely separate,” Stewart added.
He, however, said the ICC prosecutors were yet to launch the investigation as their chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s recent request for launching the investigation now awaited ICC judges’ approval in line with the ICC rules.
Stewart said he was visiting Bangladesh to engage with the Bangladesh officials and other stakeholders includ-ing the atrocity victims ahead of the expected opening of the investigation.
“If we are authorised to do an investigation, we will work in strict conformity with the law, which in our case is the legal framework of the treaty of the ICC,” he said.
He said they proposed the Bangladesh government to sign a MoU in this regard as a state party to the ICC. “This is a normal practice everywhere and a matter of discussion. There is no negativity from the part of Bang-ladesh”.
The ICC prosecutor said they also sought Myanmar’s cooperation in investigating the matter but they did not get any response from them so far.
But, Stewart said, there was a reasonable basis to believe that at least 700,000 Rohingyas were deported from Myanmar to Bangladesh through a range of coercive acts and “there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Rohingya people have suffered persecution as result of these alleged crimes”.
On July 4, Bensouda requested to the judges of the ICC to authorise the opening of an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity against Rohingyas.
The ICC was established to deal with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed after July 1, 2002 and the crime of aggression, July 17, 2018.
The ICC delegation members held meetings with ministers and senior officials and are scheduled to visit Roh-ingya camps and hold a meeting with government authorities on Saturday.