Geneva, Dhaka (16 May 2022) – The United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (“IIMM” or “Mechanism”), completed a working visit to Bangladesh Saturday. Assistant Secretary-General Nicholas Koumjian, the Head of the Mechanism, deemed the mission highly successful, and thanked the Government of Bangladesh for its pledge of full cooperation with the Mechanism. He stated that “the highly professional and practical approach of the Bangladeshi Authorities is greatly appreciated. We were able to agree to practical arrangements that will allow the Mechanism to advance its evidence gathering activities in Bangladesh while ensuring the security and privacy of all with whom we interact.”
The delegation, led by Mr. Koumjian, visited Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar from 7 to 14 May 2022. This was the second official visit of the Mechanism to Bangladesh. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mechanism had not been able to return to Bangladesh since its first mission to Cox’s Bazar in November 2019.
In Dhaka, the delegation met with representatives of the Government of Bangladesh to discuss Bangladesh’s ongoing cooperation with the Mechanism. Mr. Koumjian also delivered a lecture on international justice mechanisms at BRAC University and met with civil society representatives at the Liberation War Museum.
In Cox’s Bazar, the delegation engaged with relevant authorities and civil society organizations. The delegation conducted six interactive dialogues with over 150 Rohingya representatives to raise awareness about the Mechanism’s purpose and methods of work.
In an effort to explain the Mechanism’s work and what it can and cannot do, Mr. Koumjian spoke with representatives from different groups of Rohingya, including women’s organizations, and gave an interview to Radio Naf, which broadcasts in the Rohingya language. He expressed appreciation to the camp authorities for facilitating these meetings and to all those who took the time to attend.
Mr. Koumjian stressed that the Mechanism places great importance on engaging with the Rohingya forcibly displaced from Myanmar and now present in Cox’s Bazar. “We want to assure victims that the Mechanism is working to contribute to proceedings, including at the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice, to ensure justice and accountability for the crimes that were committed against them,” he said. “We also want to listen to their concerns and to let them know that their safety and security are of paramount importance to us. We will never share their information without their informed consent.
Mr. Koumjian explained that “My team and I were very moved as we listened to the Rohingya representatives recount the suffering their people endured. Many speakers explained that their hope and desire is to return to the country where they were born, rebuild their communities and enjoy all normal and basic rights. These words inspired my team and I to redouble our efforts to gather compelling evidence to contribute to judicial processes that we hope will bring some measure of justice to the Rohingya and instill confidence that will enable their safe and voluntary return to their homes in Myanmar.”
The Mechanism was established by the Human Rights Council in September 2018 to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011. The Human Rights Council also directed the Mechanism to prepare files that will facilitate fair and independent criminal proceedings in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have, or in the future may have, jurisdiction over these crimes.