Geneva, Dhaka (18 November 2019) – A delegation of the United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (the “Myanmar Mechanism”), led by the Head of the Myanmar Mechanism, Mr. Nicholas Koumjian, conducted the Mechanism’s first mission to the region by visiting Bangladesh from 9 to 14 November 2019.
The delegation travelled to Cox’s Bazar to meet with representatives of the refugee community, civil society organizations and community leaders. Mr. Koumjian explained the mandate of the Mechanism, listen to the concerns of the representatives and discussed how victims can engage with the Mechanism.
The main focus of the discussions centered on questions from victims’ representatives about the potential impact of the Mechanism and the ways it will discharge its mission. Mr. Koumjian explained that the Mechanism was an investigative as opposed to judicial body and it will rely on and work with authorities from national and international courts to pursue prosecutions. The Mechanism will organize the evidence it collects on individuals’ criminal responsibility in case files, which will be turned over to national, regional or international courts able and willing to try perpetrators of serious international crimes.
Mr. Koumjian explained other issues of concern to victims’ representatives, including that the Mechanism will give the highest priority to ensuring that the security and privacy of witnesses are respected.
“Victims of all ethnic backgrounds are the key constituency for the Myanmar Mechanism and this mission was only the first in many more to come in which we will directly engage with them,” said the Head of the Mechanism. “Our main goal was to clarify the Myanmar Mechanism’s unique mandate and explain that while the Mechanism is not a court and cannot itself arrest, try or punish anyone, it will pursue its mandate to promote accountability by gathering, analysing and preserving the evidence of crimes and international law violations committed since 2011 in Myanmar.”
The delegation also held discussions with other relevant stakeholders on establishing the necessary cooperation to allow the Mechanism to fulfill its mandate.
The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar was established by the Human Rights Council in resolution 39/2 of 27 September 2018 with the mandate to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law. The Human Rights Council resolution directed the Mechanism to use the material collected to prepare files that will facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have, or in the future may have, jurisdiction over these crimes.