Facebook provided vast amount of Myanmar war crimes information, UN investigator says

Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the UN's International Court of Justice

Rohingya refugees hold Genocide Remembrance Day rallies across the huge network of camps in Bangladesh, marking five years since fleeing a brutal military offensive in Myanmar. AFP
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The head of a UN team of investigators said on Monday that Facebook has handed over millions of items that could support allegations of war crimes and genocide in Myanmar.

The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) aims to build case files for proceedings in national, regional or international courts. It was established in 2018 by the UN Human Rights Council and began work the following year.

“Facebook has shared with the mechanism millions of items from networks of accounts that were taken down by the company because they misrepresented their identity,” Nicholas Koumjian, head of the IIMM, said in a speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the UN's International Court of Justice over a 2017 military crackdown on the Rohingya that forced more than 730,000 people to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Facebook, whose parent company changed its name to Meta Platforms last year, said that it supports international efforts for accountability for the crimes committed against the Rohingya.

“[We] have made voluntary, lawful disclosures to the UN's investigative mechanism as well as disclosures of public information to the Gambia”, which has filed the genocide case, Miranda Sissons, director of human rights policy at Meta, said in an email.

In 2018, UN human rights investigators said the social media site had spread hate speech that fuelled the violence in Myanmar.

Facebook has said it is working to block hate speech.

With the Facebook items and other pieces of information from more than 200 sources, the mechanism has prepared 67 “evidential and analytical packages”. These packages are intended to be shared with judicial authorities, including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, Mr Koumjian added.

The International Criminal Court has also opened a case looking at deportation and other crimes against humanity in relation to Rohingya refugees who were forced into court member state Bangladesh.

Myanmar denies it committed acts of genocide and says its armed forces were conducting legitimate operations against militants.

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Updated: September 13, 2022, 5:19 AM