Interview: Independent Mechanism for Myanmar

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Nicholas Koumjian head of the Independent Mechanism
Nicholas Koumjian head of the Independent Mechanism

Geneva, 18 October 2021 (TDI): 59 specialists appointed by the United Nations, have been working for the past two years, regarding Myanmar. That team is the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar. The Independent Mechanism members are experts in gender violence, and crimes against children; analysts, specialists in open-source evidence, and also investigators.

The Human Rights Council created the Mechanism, in 2018. The reason for its creation was that the Independent Fact-Finding Mission found then clear patterns of violence. The author was the army, Tatmadaw.  The specialists have been collecting, and also analyzing, around 2 million pieces of evidence.

By collecting evidence, the team needs to then determine whether Myanmar’s authorities have committed human rights violations. The head of the Mechanism, Nicholas Koumjian, also stressed the necessity to preserve the evidence. UN News interviewed Koumjian regarding the work of the Mechanism.

INTERVIEW TO KOUMJIAN

In the interview, Koumjian mentioned that the Mechanism started its work in July 2019. He stated that the Mechanism now has over two million pieces of evidence, that they are analyzing. Koumjian also mentioned that they are not a reporting mechanism, court, or also prosecution service.

That is why the Mechanism only collects evidence, and also prepares files. According to Koumjian; it was a request to the Mechanism, to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. Parties of the International Court of Justice requested the Mechanism, to share the evidence.

It is important to mention that the Mechanism does not have access to Myanmar. Koumjian also refers that it is not an immediate prospect that grants them access. He was also asked about the military coup in February. Koumjian answered that even though most of the issues are not within their mandate; that his team was concerned, about the crimes against civilians.

Koumjian stated that the information comes from varied sources, either by interviews or existing information. The last question that Koumjian answered was about justice. His answer was that people do not feel safe, due to conflicts around the world. He also stated that part of justice is that those who committed crimes previously with impunity, will be held responsible.

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