Wednesday, 26 September, 2018


Myanmar says International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction in Rohingya crisis

International Criminal Court says it can decide on allegations of Rohingya deportations from Myanmar Hague 'has jurisdiction' to investigate Myanmar in Rohingya case
Bennie Garza | 10 September, 2018, 21:16

International condemnation against widespread human rights violations in Myanmar has increased following a 27 August United Nations report of its Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.

While Myanmar is not a member of The Hague-based court, Bangladesh is - and the cross-border nature of deportation was sufficient for jurisdiction, the ICC said in its ruling.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are two Reuter journalists that have been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment for allegedly breaching Myanmar's state secrets law during their reporting of a massacre of Rohingya Muslims.

The Chamber found that it has the power to entertain the Prosecutor's request under article 119 (1) of the ICC Rome Statute, a well-established principle of worldwide law according to which any global tribunal has the power to determine the extent of its own jurisdiction.

The office of Myanmar President Win Myint said Thursday's decision by The Hague-based court was "the result of faulty procedure and is of dubious legal merit".

On Aug. 25, 2017, Myanmar launched a major military crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority, killing nearly 24,000 civilians and forcing 750,000 others, including women and children, to flee to Bangladesh, according to the Ontario International Development Agency.

In an unprecedented move in April, the ICC's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked judges to rule whether she can investigate the deportations as a crime against humanity.

Bensouda had likened deportation to "a cross-border shooting", arguing the crime "is not completed until the bullet (fired in one state) strikes and kills the victim (standing in another state)".

The ICC ruling followed global outrage triggered by the sentencing of two local Reuters journalists earlier this week for seven years in jail under a draconian state secrets act.

Bensouda has not formally announced a preliminary examination, but the judges in their ruling said that prosecutors' work so far studying the Rohingya issue serves that goal.

But the road to a tribunal will be long and complex, with China likely try to thwart any prosecution of its ally at the world's only permanent war crimes court. It has so far signaled it does not intend to cooperate with the worldwide court.

Myanmar has denied allegations of atrocities made against its security forces by refugees, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees staged protests 10 days ago to mark the first anniversary of the flight from Myanmar demanding "justice".

The ICC ruling on Thursday significantly ups the ante on Myanmar, allowing the ICC's chief prosecutor to open a preliminary investigation that could lead to a wider probe and eventually a trial.

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