Pre-trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court has authorised the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the alleged crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed against the Rohingya people from Myanmar.
The ICC pre-trial Chamber III is composed of Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia, Presiding, Judge Robert Fremr, and Judge Geoffrey Henderson.
The Office of the Prosecutor will start collecting the necessary evidence from a variety of reliable sources, independently, impartially, and objectively, according to a statement received from the ICC on Thursday.
The investigation can take as long as needed to gather the required evidence.
If sufficient evidence would be collected to establish that specific individuals bear criminal responsibility, the Prosecutor would then request Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III to issue either summonses to appear or warrants of arrest.
The responsibility to enforce warrants of arrest issued by an ICC Chamber remains with States. States Parties to the Rome Statute have a legal obligation to cooperate fully with the ICC.
Other States may be invited to cooperate with the ICC and may decide to do so on a voluntary basis.
This authorisation follows the request submitted on 4 July 2019 by the Prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed against the Rohingya people from Myanmar.
The Chamber also received the views on this request by or on behalf of hundreds of thousands of alleged victims.
According to the ICC Registry, victims unanimously insist that they want an investigation by the Court and many of the consulted alleged victims ‘believe that only justice and accountability can ensure that the perceived circle of violence and abuse comes to an end’.
The Chamber recognised all the individuals and organisations that assisted, guided and advised alleged victims throughout this process.
The Chamber concluded that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over crimes when part of the criminal conduct takes place on the territory of a State Party.
While Myanmar is not a State Party, Bangladesh ratified the ICC Rome statute in 2010.
Upon review of the available information, the Chamber accepted that there exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as the crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population.
The Chamber found no need to assess whether other crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction may have been committed, even though such alleged crimes could be part of the Prosecutor’s future investigation.
Noting the scale of the alleged crimes and the number of victims allegedly involved, the Chamber considered that the situation clearly reaches the gravity threshold.
According to the supporting material, an estimated 600,000 to one million Rohingya were forcibly displaced from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh as a result of the alleged coercive acts.
Noting the victims’ views, the Chamber agreed with the Prosecutor that there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation into the situation would not be in the interests of justice.
Consequently, Pre-Chamber III authorised the commencement of the investigation in relation to any crime, including any future crime, as long as: a) it is within the jurisdiction of the Court, b) it is allegedly committed at least in part on the territory of Bangladesh, or on the territory of any other State Party or State accepting the ICC jurisdiction, c) it is sufficiently linked to the situation as described in the present decision, and d) it was allegedly committed on or after the date of entry into force of the Rome Statute for Bangladesh or other relevant State Party.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said recruiting agencies must register all the female workers, especially those going abroad as housemaids, to deal with the issues of exploitation or torture.
He said the agencies that send female workers abroad do not complete registration for the workers making it difficult to identify and locate if any incident happens at their places of work.
“We’re making it (registration) mandatory for agencies,” the Foreign Minister told reporters while briefing them about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s forthcoming official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Referring to the demand of some quarters to stop sending female workers abroad, Dr Momen said they have not taken any decision yet but the government does not want to discriminate against women.
“I don’t know how the women will take it if their scope is curtailed,” said the minister mentioning that they are discussing the issue.
Dr Momen said around 6 lakh female workers are now abroad and around 2.70 lakh of them are in Saudi Arabia alone. “Most of the complaints come from Saudi Arabia.”
He claimed that the majority of the female workers now abroad are somehow managing well with a small percentage of them facing problems.
On Tuesday, Jatiya Party and Gonoforum MPs in parliament demanded that sending female manpower to Saudi Arabia for domestic works be stopped as they often face physical assault and harassment.
In reply, Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed said the government is very much worried about the matter.
During the question-answer session, Jatiya Party MPs KaziFiroz Rashid and Mujibul Huq Chunnu, and Gonoforum MP Sultan Muhammed Mansur Ahmed raised the issue separately.
“We’ve taken steps to send female workers after training on various protective measures. If it seems that this is completely impossible then we’ll think not to send any female worker [to KSA],” the minister said.
Two hundred and fifteen more Bangladeshi workers were deported from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday night.
A Saudi Airlines flight (SV804) carrying 86 deportees landed at HazratShahjalal International Airport around 11:20pm while 129 in another Saudi Airlines flight (SV802) at 1:15am.
According to the expatriate welfare desk at the airport, a total of 1,561 workers were deported in the first two weeks of November. Around 21,000 Bangladeshis came back from Saudi Arabia this year alone.
Sohrab, one of the deportees, said he went to Saudi Arabia two years ago spending Tk 5 lakh and returned absolutely empty-handed. He was detained from the complaint room and sent back to Bangladesh.
Another deportee,Harun, said he was caught while returning from his workplace and forced to come back. He had to spend Tk 6.5 lakh to go to Saudi Arabia.
Shahbul Islam, hailing from Tangail district, said he paid Tk 3,30,000 four months ago for a driving visa after being lured by a broker and recruiting agency called MessrsJaved Overseas. He was not given any salary either during his stay in Saudi Arabia and came back home penniless.
Many deported workers complained that they had paid the Kafeel (warrantors) to renew their legal permission (akama) but he failed to do so.
SharifulHasan expressed his disappointment at the fact that the Kafeeldid not accept any responsibility after the workers were arrested.
Meanwhile, a female worker, Sumi, who was tortured in Saudi Arabia, is due to return on Friday morning.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Golam Moshi said 100 more female workers will return in the same flight, official sources said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina to watch the second Test match between Bangladesh and India that will begin at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 22.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday confirmed Modi’s invitation letter to Hasina to watch the second match of the two-match Test series saying the Prime Minister will visit Kolkata on November 22.
However, Prime Minister Modi will not join Sheikh Hasina in Kolkata due to his pre-engagement, said the Foreign Minister while briefing reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said Prime Minister Hasina will be treated as a State guest and she will spend a couple of hours there before her return to Dhaka later in the day.
Earlier, President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Sourav Ganguly invited Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to watch the second Test match to be held at Eden Gardens in Kolkata from November 22 to 26.
The government has appointed Ambassador Kamrul Ahsan, currently serving as Secretary for Bilateral and Consular Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the new Ambassador of Bangladesh to the Russian Federation.
Ambassador designate Ahsan is a career foreign service officer, belonging to 1985 batch of Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) Foreign Affairs cadre, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.
In his diplomatic career, he has served in various capacities at Bangladesh Missions in Beijing, London, Washington DC and Dubai.
He also served as High Commissioner to Canada and Singapore. He was promoted to the rank of Secretary in 2016.
Ahsan obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
He also studied at Beijing Language and Culture University and Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, Hawaii, USA.