Independent Commission of Enquiry holds press conference

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Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) press conference held in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA

Independent Commission on Enquiry (ICOE) led by Chairperson Ambassador Rosario Manalo held a press conference in Thingaha Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw yesterday afternoon on the commission’s duties and responsibilities.
At the press conference Commission Chairperson Ambassador Rosario Manalo said ICOE was established on 30 July 2018. The Commission was formed with 4 members that include an international expert. The Commission arrived to Myanmar on 14 August and met with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as well as relevant Union Ministers. During these meetings, the Terms of Reference (ToR) of ICOE and the work of the Government of Myanmar in relation to Rakhine State were discussed.
The Commission and the Government discussed in detail about the voluntary, safe and dignified return program of displaced persons from Rakhine State as agreed between Myanmar and Bangladesh on 23 November 2017.
The Commission also discussed the national initiatives of the Myanmar Government to address reconciliation, peace, stability and development in Rakhine State. Furthermore, the Commission discussed the establishment of a Secretariat of the ICOE that will serve it administratively.
The Commission is tasked to investigate allegations of human rights violations and related issues following the terrorist attacks on 9 October 2016 and 25 August 2017 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in Rakhine State with a view to seeking accountability and to formulate recommendations on steps to be taken to ensure peace and stability in Rakhine State.
In discharging its mandate, the ICOE will apply the laws of Myanmar, in particular, the Investigation Committees Act 1950. The ICOE will also avail of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, when applicable.
The ICOE anticipates having the cooperation from the Government of Myanmar, as well as those from the Region, State and other relevant authorities. Such cooperation will cover complying with requests for information by the ICOE, assistance in collecting data/information and provision of testimony from central and local authorities of all branches of government, including military and police.
The Government of Myanmar will provide appropriate security arrangements for the members of ICOE and support staff.
The Government of Myanmar will also provide protection to all those who are in contact with ICOE, particularly victims and witnesses. No person shall suffer harassment, threats, acts of intimidation, ill-treatment, reprisals or any prejudicial treatment on account of appearance before the Commission as witnesses or as victims.
ICOE will take into account all sources of relevant and reliable information. ICOE may undertake studies, and/or investigative visits to the critical areas to obtain first-hand information. ICOE may make a call for written submissions from any interested persons or group which will help in its work. ICOE will observe the principles of independence, impartiality, objectivity, discretion, transparency, confidentiality, integrity and professionalism.
The Chairperson of the ICOE shall submit to the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar the Commission’s reports including its recommendations prepared on the basis of the outcomes of its investigations.
The ICOE has set up an in-house Secretariat which will support its work administratively. Legal and forensic international experts will be called upon by ICOE as and when necessary. In the meantime, the Commission has tasked the Secretariat to start gathering reports and documents from different stake holders/institutions/ministries so that ICOE may commence soonest the research and analysis of these data. The website of the ICOE will be launched soon said the ICOE Chairperson.
Next, questions raised by international and local media were answered by Commission Chairperson Rosario Manalo and Commission member Ambassador Kenzo Oshima.
ICOE members U Mya Thein and Prof. Dr. Aung Tun Thet also attended the press conference.

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