HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL OPENS FORTY-FOURTH REGULAR SESSION, HEARS HIGH COMMISSIONER’S UPDATE ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Holds Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights in the Philippines, Starts Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar
The Human Rights Council this morning opened its forty-fourth regular session, hearing an update from Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council then held an enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in the Philippines, and started an interactive dialogue on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.
Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, addressing the Council in a video message, said that national security was invariably under the purview of the central authorities, be it in China or any other country. Since last June, Hong Kong had been traumatized by escalating violence set by external forces. Once rated as one of the safest cities in the world, security and stability had become relevant concerns in Hong Kong. All those countries pointing a finger at China had their own national security legislation in place. There was no valid reason why China alone should be inhibited from enacting national security legislation.
Opening the session, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, President of the Human Rights Council, outlined the extraordinary measures being taken to ensure the health and safety of everyone present at the session in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Bachelet, presenting an oral update on the human rights implications of COVID-19, noted that human rights concerns related to COVID-19 continued to gather pace, as it became clear that the epidemic threatened both peace and development. Disaggregated data indicated that members of racial and ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, particularly people of African descent, were both more likely to die of COVID-19 and were hit hardest by its socio-economic consequences that also disproportionately affected children, women and girls, older people and persons with disabilities.
Ms. Bachelet then opened the enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in the Philippines, saying that the report revealed very serious findings, emphasizing that laws and policies that countered national security threats and illegal drugs had been crafted and implemented in ways that severely impacted human rights, resulting in the killing of 248 human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and trade unionists between 2015 and 2019, among other negative effects.
Mendaro I. Guevarra, Justice Secretary of the Philippines, said in a video message that the President had run and won on a campaign promise of a drug-free Philippines where the people would be safe and their rights would be protected. Claims that there was impunity or near-impunity in the country found no anchor in a system that provided every avenue to examine, establish and pursue a claim of wrongdoing by a State actor, if such claims were substantiated with facts.
Karen Lucia Gomez-Dumpit, Representative of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, said in a video message that the past failure to combat human rights violations had directly led to the current climate of impunity, and there was an obligation from the Government to combat it, pursue social justice and uphold human rights. The Philippines must enable accountability mechanisms, account for every killing, provide effective protection to victims and whistleblowers, and persecute all perpetrators.
Ray Paolo J. Santiago, Executive Director at the Ateneo Human Rights Centre of Ateneo de Manila University, said in a video message that there had been positive developments in terms of law-making, policy-setting on paper, and even the resolve of many government workers, painstakingly trying to make the Philippines a better place to live in. The well-documented high incidence of warrantless arrests and killings in the more recent years showed how due process of the law had been stretched to the limit.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers shared the High Commissioner’s concerns regarding the widespread and systemic killings in the Philippines, as well as human rights violations and the climate of impunity related to the implementation of the “war on drugs”. Other speakers welcomed the continuing cooperation of the Philippines with the High Commissioner and noted that the Council’s approach towards the Philippines was an example of politicisation, at odds with the principles of impartiality and non-selectivity.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue were : Finland on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, Viet Nam on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Liechtenstein, Canada, Belgium, United Nations Children’s Fund, China, Russian Federation, Thailand, Venezuela (video message), Saudi Arabia, France, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Syria, Australia, Iran, Jordan, Luxembourg, Belarus, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Japan, Cambodia, Bahrain, Iraq, New Zealand, Netherlands, Lebanon, Austria, Azerbaijan, Viet Nam, Switzerland, Iceland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Myanmar, Cuba and Nicaragua.
Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations : World Organisation against Torture, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Human Rights Watch, Franciscans International, Amnesty International, CIVICUS, International Commission of Jurists, Federatie van Nderelandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - COC Nederland, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, and the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund.
The Council then heard the presentation of an oral update on the human rights situation of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in which she noted with regret that the human rights situation for Rohingyas in Rakhine state had not improved. In welcoming the recent release of hundreds of Rohingya people who had been imprisoned for traveling outside Rakhine, Ms. Bachelet expressed hope that this was a step towards restoring their freedom of movement.
Speaking as a concerned country, Myanmar urged the international community, instead of imposing impediments, to extend helping hands in a constructive and sincere manner to Myanmar to support its efforts to find a sustainable solution towards a peaceful and prosperous country. Myanmar was committed to working together with all those who shared its desire to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by all people and reject all forms of politicization.
At 3 p.m., the Council will continue and conclude its interactive dialogue on Myanmar. It will then hold an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. Time permitting, the Council will then hold an interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on her oral update on the annual report and the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Opening Remarks by the President of the Human Rights Council
ELISABETH TICHY-FISSLBERGER, President of the Human Rights Council, recalled that on 23 June the Council had held an informal discussion in order to take stock of the extraordinary modalities applied during the resumed forty-third session. Subsequent to this informal discussion, the Bureau had considered all of the views and concerns that had been expressed by the members and observers of the Council during that discussion. The Bureau had also agreed that the modalities for the forty-fourth session should be updated based on that informal discussion and subsequently approved by the Council during the opening of the forty-fourth session. She underlined that these proposed extraordinary modalities shall apply exclusively to the current circumstances and shall by no means serve as a precedent.
The Council agreed that the proposed modalities would be applied during the forty-fourth session under the current circumstances.
The Council has before it theAnnual Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights ( A/HRC/43/3)
The Council has before it a Presidential Statement by the President of the Human Rights Council on theHuman Rights Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic ( A/HRC/PRST/43/1)
High Commissioner for Human Rights: Global Update on Human Rights and the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , noted that human rights concerns related to COVID-19 continued to gather pace, as it became clear that the epidemic threatened both peace and development. Disaggregated data indicated that members of racial and ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, particularly people of African descent, were both more likely to die of COVID-19 and were hit hardest by its socio-economic consequences that also disproportionately affected children, women and girls, older people and persons with disabilities. Young people under the age of 25, 75 per cent of whom globally worked in informal jobs, often in hard-hit sectors such as restaurants and entertainment, were also deeply affected, especially those who were also migrants, often detained in overcrowded centres such as those in Greece, Honduras, Malaysia and Panama. In Sri Lanka and India, members of the Muslim minority were being targeted by stigma and hate speech associating them with COVID-19. In Bulgaria, Roma people had been stigmatised as a public health threat.
Stigmatization and threats against people presumed to be infected by COVID-19 had also been reported in Haiti, Iraq and many other countries. In Pakistan, hate speech against religious minorities remained virulent. Reports of threats and intimidation against journalists and civic activists had been received in the Russian Federation, China, Kosovo, Nicaragua and many other countries. In Egypt, severe restrictions on freedoms of association and peaceful assembly continued, including with respect to online discussion of the spread of COVID-19. The response of El Salvador to the pandemic reportedly included excessive and arbitrary enforcement measures. In Yemen, COVID-19, as well as the spread of cholera, malaria and dengue fever, devastated the war-ravaged country where armed clashes continued, further limiting access to humanitarian assistance. Ms. Bachelet urged the extension of the authorization of cross-border aid by the Security Council and the reopening of the Al-Yaroubiya border to allow humanitarian assistance in Syria. In the Sahel, armed groups strengthened their influence on communities in Mali and Burkina Faso. COVID-19 further heightened the extreme vulnerability of the populations of South Sudan and Haiti, while in Zimbabwe three women from the main opposition party were reportedly abducted, tortured and incarcerated in the context of enforcing COVID restrictions.
Ms. Bachelet was encouraged by the Republic of Korea’s response, noting its open and communicative approach to leaving no one behind, creating comprehensive policies that reached the most vulnerable. On the other hand, in countries such as Belarus, Brazil, Burundi, Nicaragua, Tanzania and United States, statements that denied the reality of the virus were concerning. Swift and effective measures had been taken by many developing countries, including in Africa, and the European Commission’s proposal for a multi-year response was an example of sound leadership, but countries should not give in to calls of relaxing regulations. Ms. Bachelet concluded that a global coordinated response that acknowledged the central role of human rights was critical to recovery from COVID-19, requiring firm political will and strengthened partnerships.
Statement by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
CARRIE LAM, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China , speaking in a video message, said that she welcomed this opportunity to state her position on the enactment of national security legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. National security was invariably under the purview of the central authorities, be it in China or any other country. Hong Kong was an inalienable part of China, a Special Administrative Region enjoying a high degree of autonomy directly under the central Government. As an exceptional arrangement under the policy of one country, two systems, the basic law governing the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macaw obliged them to enact local legislation to safeguard national security. Legislation on national security was now urgently needed in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Since last June, Hong Kong had been traumatized by escalating violence set by external forces. Once rated as one of the safest cities in the world, security and stability had become relevant concerns in Hong Kong.
No central Government could turn a blind eye to such threats to national security and sovereignty and risks of subversion of State power. All in all, acts had crossed the one-country red line, and this called for resolute action. The National People’s Congress had the constitutional power and duty to enact national security legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The legislation aimed to prevent, curb, and punish acts of cessation, subversion of State power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. These crimes would be clearly defined in the law, which would only target a small minority of people who had breached the law. The legislation upheld important legal principles, such as the presumption of innocence and the rights of the suspects, and it would have no retrospective effect.
Except for in rare specified situations, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region would exercise jurisdiction over offences under the law. The law would not affect Hong Kong’s renowned judicial independence, nor legitimate rights and freedoms of individuals, which were protected under the basic law and relevant international covenants applied to Hong Kong. It would not undermine the one country, two systems principle and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. The one-country principle was non-negotiable and would not be compromised. Foreign politicians and governments raising objections against the legislation adopted double standards. All those countries pointing a finger at China had their own national security legislation in place. There was no valid reason why China alone should be inhibited from enacting national security legislation. Ms. Lam urged the international community to respect the country’s right to safeguard national security and the aspiration of Hong Kong’s people for stability and harmony.
Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights in the Philippines
The Council has before it the Human rights situation in the Philippines – Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ( A/HRC/44/22 )
Opening Remarks by the High Commissioner for Human Rights
MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , thanked the Philippines Government for its cooperation, but noted that her team was not granted access to the country in relation to this mandate. The report presented very serious findings, emphasizing that laws and policies that countered national security threats and illegal drugs had been crafted and implemented in ways that severely impacted human rights, resulting in thousands of killings and arbitrary detentions and the killing of 248 human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and trade unionists between 2015 and 2019. The new Anti-Terrorism Act blurred the distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism, and could have a further chilling effect on human rights and humanitarian work. The “war on drugs” had exacerbated the human rights situation, as it was being carried out without due regard for the rule of law and with impunity, while at the same time senior government officials admitted that it had been ineffective in reducing the supply of illicit drugs. Moreover, indigenous peoples and farmers continued to be caught between powerful business, political and state actors, despite the passing of progressive legislation.
Ms. Bachelet noted that the Office was ready to strengthen its constructive engagement with the Philippines based on the report’s recommendations, and urged the Council to remain active and vigilant on the situation in the country, expressing hope that the report would mark the beginning of the end of impunity for serious human rights violations in the Philippines.
Statement by the Justice Secretary of the Philippines
MENARDO I. GUEVARRA, Justice Secretary of the Philippines, said in a video message that transparency and constructive cooperation characterized the Philippines’ engagement with the United Nations and the international community. This was no less true in the area of human rights. Ensuring human rights was a fundamental national interest, and anchored the agenda of the administration which sought to promote and uplift the dignity of all 110 million Filipinos. First and foremost of these rights was the safety, security and wellbeing of the general public. This commitment was firm and unwavering ; more so now as the nation faced the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. An assessment of the human rights situation in the Philippines could only be credible when it was properly informed by the context on the ground. The President had run and won on a campaign promise of a drug-free Philippines where the people would be safe and their rights would be protected. The President had discharged this mandate faithfully. After four years, the President and his anti-drug campaign enjoyed the strong and widespread support of the Filipino people. As a democracy, the Philippines must continue on the path that had the public’s unflagging support.
The Government had also established an inter-agency committee on extra-legal killings and other violations, chaired by Mr. Guevarra and working with the Commission on Human Rights, which was conducting a judicious review of the 5,655 anti-illegal drugs operations where deaths occurred. The Philippine National Police was obliged by its internal mechanisms to conduct motu propio investigations — whether or not there were complainants — on all law enforcement operations that had resulted in deaths, and take action on this basis. As with all human rights-related mechanisms in the country, the Commission on Human Rights would be involved in its capacity as an independent monitoring body. The continued, unhampered functioning of the Philippine Commission of Human Rights underpinned the Philippines strong position against calls for an independent investigative mechanism, including the one made before the International Criminal Court from which the Philippines had withdrawn. Claims that there was impunity or near-impunity in the country found no anchor in a system that provided every avenue to examine, establish and pursue a claim of wrongdoing by a State actor, if such claims were substantiated with facts.
Statement by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
KAREN LUCIA GOMEZ-DUMPIT, Representative of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, said in a video message that the report was welcomed, and that the Government’s engagement with the independent mechanisms was a positive development, noting with regret the public rejection of the report’s findings and recommendations. The past failure to combat human rights violations had directly led to the current climate of impunity, and there was an obligation from the Government to combat it, pursue social justice and uphold human rights. The harmful rhetoric from the highest levels of authority must be immediately halted, sending a clear message to those on the frontline to protect human rights. The Philippines must also enable accountability mechanisms, account for every killing, provide effective protection to victims and whistleblowers, and persecute all perpetrators. Ms. Gomez-Dumpit also called on the Government to remove the reintroduction of the death penalty and the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and establish a National Preventive Mechanism. The Council and the international community, on the other hand, were requested to continue the technical cooperation and consider options for other international accountability measures. To forge constrictive dialogue and collaboration in the Philippines, Ms. Gomez-Dumpit respectfully asked the Council for this opportunity to remain open.
Statement by the Ateneo Human Rights Centre of Ateneo de Manila University
RAY PAOLO J. SANTIAGO, Executive Director at the Ateneo Human Rights Centre of Ateneo de Manila University , said in a video message that there had been positive developments in terms of law-making, policy-setting on paper, and even the resolve of many government workers, painstakingly trying to make the Philippines a better place to live in. The Philippines faced a number of institutional challenges: structural inequality, weak institutions, political dynasties, and poor implementation of the law, to name a few. These weighed down on good governance, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law – all of which were needed in a democratic state. The well-documented high incidence of warrantless arrests and killings in the more recent years showed how due process of law had been stretched to the limit. Too wide discretion had been exercised by law enforcers. The imminence of an Anti-Terrorism Law gave wider discretion for warrantless arrests. Legitimate dissent was under attack. Even some media outlets found themselves beseeched with legal woes for being perceived as critical.
The barriers to access to justice did not help the situation at all. To this Human Rights Council, Mr. Santiago prayed that the issues brought here not be decided based on quid pro quo arrangements. People’s lives depended on the Council. An independent and transparent fact-finding mission would help the Philippine Government in its own quest to build accountability and address impunity. The international community could assist the Philippine Government in rebuilding trust with the people: one not merely based on popular support, but on its adherence to international human rights standards. Mr. Santiago humbly recommended that the Philippine Government continue cooperating with international human rights mechanisms
; but more closely this time. It must show its resolve to pursue honest to goodness accountability beyond the rhetoric. It must provide for reparation and psycho-social intervention for victims. Mr. Santiago expressed hope that, if there was political will to push for an anti-terrorism law, it would also find the political will to pass a human rights defenders law.
Discussion on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines
In the ensuing discussion, speakers shared the High Commissioner’s concerns regarding the widespread and systemic extrajudicial killings, human rights violations and the climate of impunity related to the implementation of the “war on drugs” in the Philippines. Harassment, targeting and killings of journalists, trade unionists and human rights defenders had to be investigated, as speakers called on the Government to uphold the freedom of expression and repeal the death penalty. Other speakers noted that 73 children had been killed since July 2016, the youngest only five months old, reminding the Philippines to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and calling on the Government to facilitate the release of children from detention. The ongoing investigation of the International Criminal Court and the exit of the Philippines from the Court’s Rome Statute showed that the country was not prepared to protect its population from human rights abuses. Other speakers welcomed the continuing cooperation of the Philippines with the High Commissioner, as well as its progress in promoting economic development and human rights, expressing support for its law enforcement efforts, and noting that the Council’s approach towards the Philippines was an example of politicisation, at odds with the principles of impartiality and non-selectivity. Speakers noted that illegal drugs were a scourge on the world, leading to greater criminality, and that it was important to tackle this problem, welcoming the Philippines’ efforts in this regard.
Speakers noted that the near total impunity with which human rights violations were committed in the Philippines amounted to crimes against humanity. Rather than investigating crimes, the administration harassed and jailed critics, shut down the largest television network and labelled activists as terrorists, significantly restricting the freedom of expression. The anti-terrorism bill had a vague definition of “terrorism” and “terrorist”, and could be used to stifle dissent and freedom of expression. A commission of inquiry into these systematic human rights violations would be a gigantic step on behalf of the international community in tackling these issues. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Government included a shoot-to-kill policy of COVID-19 “troublemakers” and the passing of a law that curtailed freedom of speech and was already being used against activists and journalists. Moreover, jails in the Philippines were among the world’s most overcrowded, putting the prisoners at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. The Government openly waged a war against the most vulnerable, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights activists, 20 of whom were detained at last week’s pride march in Manilla. Speakers further emphasized that at least seven children had lost their lives since the beginning of 2020, calling for an independent investigation into the deaths of children in the country and urging the Government to accept the findings and recommendations of the High Commissioner’s report.
Concluding Remarks on the Philippines
KAREN LUCIA GOMEZ-DUMPIT, Representative of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, joining the meeting virtually, welcomed the commitment of the Justice Secretary regarding the exercise of diligence in investigating human rights violations. The Commission on Human Rights would continue to report on progress to the Human Rights Council and human rights mechanisms.
RAY PAOLO J. SANTIAGO, Executive Director at the Ateneo Human Rights Centre of Ateneo de Manila University , joining the meeting virtually, said the goal of this enhanced discussion was not to point fingers, but rather to address institutional weaknesses to the benefit of the people of the Philippines. He expressed hope that the Council would agree to concrete measures, and reiterated his recommendation for the creation of an independent fact-finding mission. Despite efforts by the Government, accountability remained elusive.
MENARDO I. GUEVARRA, Justice Secretary of the Philippines, joining the meeting virtually, said cases described as “emblematic” had been cited and selectively used. While the international community upheld the independence of the judiciary, it regrettably entertained accusations regarding the partiality of the courts. The Government supported judgement based on facts ; great care should be taken in declaring certain issues as systemic or describing cases as emblematic.
MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , said democracy required people to enjoy freedom of expression and be able to defend human rights. The Government needed to halt the dangerous rhetoric that labelled human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations as terrorists. Her Office stood ready to work with the Commission for Human Rights of the Philippines to help breach the gap between the State authority and civil society. The State should consider decriminalizing defamation. Drugs required a public health approach ; countries that had adopted such an approach had been much more successful in tackling the drug use issue.
Interactive Dialogue on the Oral Update by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Human Rights Situation of Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar
The Council has before it the Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 5 December – Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar ( A/HRC/RES/S-27/1 ).
Presentation of the Oral Update on the Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar by the High Commissioner for Human Rights
MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights , presenting the oral update, noted with regret that the human rights situation for Rohingyas in Rakhine state had not improved. Restrictions on humanitarian access and freedom of movement linked to the COVID-19 pandemic had further exacerbated the situation. In Rakhine and Chin states, the civilian population, including several minority communities, continued to bear the brunt of an intensifying armed conflict between the Tatmadaw military and the Arakan Army. The former launched a “clearance operation” in Rakhine this weekend, forcing residents to leave the area as anyone left would have been considered part of the Arakan Army, with an estimated 10,000 residents having already fled. In addition, a pattern of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including airstrikes, shelling of civilian areas, and the destruction and burning of villages had been documented by the Office. The houses of Rohingyas in the Buthidaung township where they hoped to return to, and that also constituted evidence of what happened in 2017, were burned down last month by the Tatmadaw. The Rohingya refugee crisis had effectively become protracted, with no solution in sight, as Myanmar continued to impose National Verification Cards on the Rohingya, denying their citizenship, leaving them stateless and restricting their access to basic service or free movement.
Ms. Bachelet welcomed the recent release of hundreds of Rohingya people who had been imprisoned for traveling outside Rakhine, expressing hope that this was a step towards restoring their freedom of movement. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the suffering of Rohingya refugees, as hundreds of thousands of people lived in cramped conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Myanmar’s national Commission of Enquiry had delivered its report on the 2017 violence to the Government, but the text was still not public, leaving the credibility of the investigation in doubt. It was time for the Government to make it public, and to fully translate the decrees that followed the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures into concrete action. Two and a half years since resolution A/HRC/S-27/1 sought a comprehensive solution in three years, conditions in Rakhine remained bleak, and it was time for the situation to change. Ms. Bachelet reiterated that the international community stood ready to support real efforts to solve this crisis.
Statement by Myanmar as the Concerned Country
Myanmar , speaking as the concerned country, said the Government of Myanmar paid special emphasis to socio-economic development in Rakhine state as poverty was one of the root causes of the issue. It was making utmost efforts to foster social cohesion and living harmoniously among different communities. The Government of Myanmar, in collaboration with local non-governmental organizations, had organized over 200 awareness raising and capacity building trainings throughout Rakhine state. The Government was delivering humanitarian assistance to the people in need in Rakhine, even though the intensity of armed clashes since early 2019 had presented considerable challenges to the delivering of humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected area. Myanmar had been working in good faith for early repatriation in line with the criteria mentioned in the bilateral agreements, despite the many obstacles hindering the commencement of repatriation, and it continued to engage with Bangladesh to implement the agreement for repatriation, even in the time of the global pandemic. Myanmar was willing and able to address the issue of accountability. The domestic justice system of a country must be respected. A Criminal Investigation and Prosecution Body had been formed based on the report submitted by the Independent Commission of Inquiry in January 2020.