UN Investigator Says Facebook Provided Massive Information About Myanmar War Crimes

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GENEVA, Sept 12 (Reuters) – The head of a UN investigative team on Myanmar said on Monday that Facebook had turned over millions of articles that could support claims of war crimes and genocide.

The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) aims to build cases for proceedings before national, regional or international courts. It was created in 2018 by the United Nations Human Rights Council and began its work the following year.

“Facebook has shared with the mechanism millions of items from networks of accounts that were removed by the company because they misrepresented their identities,” IIMM chief Nicholas Koumjian said in a speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Myanmar is facing genocide charges at the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a military crackdown on the Rohingya in 2017 that forced more than 730,000 people to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

Facebook, whose parent company changed its name to Meta Platforms Inc last year, could not immediately be reached for comment. The company previously said it was working with IIMM. In 2018, United Nations human rights investigators said the social media site disseminated hate speech that fueled violence. Facebook said it is working to block hate speech.

With the Facebook material and other pieces of information from more than 200 sources, the mechanism prepared 67 “evidence and analysis packages”. These packets are meant to be shared with judicial authorities, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ICJ, Koumjian added.

The ICC has also opened a case involving deportation and other crimes against humanity involving Rohingya refugees who were forced to travel to Bangladesh, an ICC member state.

Myanmar denies genocide and says its armed forces were carrying out legitimate operations against militants.

(Report by Emma Farge and Stephanie van den Berg in Geneva Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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