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Atrocities against Rohingyas: UN urges ICC to urgently open probe urgently

  • Published at 10:20 am September 9th, 2018
Web_Rohingya-camp-Cox's Bazar- syed zakir hossain
File photo of a Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Following a military crackdown in Myanmar on August 25 last year, more than 700,000 Rohingyas crossed over to Bangladesh

UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng has urged ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to consider opening a probe into the atrocities against Rohingyas—without delay. 

He said the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides victims an opportunity to access justice, for some of the crimes they have endured, which is an important first step.   

Myanmar has refused to cooperate with any impartial investigation into the matter and continues to insist on hiding behind its sovereign borders, he said in a statement. 

"It is about time that countries understand that borders are not strong enough to protect those involved in the most horrible crimes committed against human beings from prosecution," the statement reads.

He welcomed the decision issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Pre-Trial Chamber I on Thursday, in which it concluded that the Court has jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh, reports UNB. 

Adama Dieng said deportation can constitute a crime against humanity under international law. 

Also Read- Myanmar rejects ICC decision over Rohingya crisis

The Chamber also ruled that the Court would also have jurisdiction over other crimes like persecution, if at least one element of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court - or part of such a crime - has been committed on the territory of a State Party to the Statute.

“This decision is a light in what has been a very dark episode for the Rohingyas this past year,” the special adviser said. 

The decision followed a request by the Prosecutor of the ICC, on April 9, to obtain a ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber—on the jurisdiction of the Court when persons are deported from the territory of a State which is not party to the Rome Statute of the ICC into the territory of a State which is a party to the Statute. 

Myanmar is not a party to the Statute but Bangladesh is. 

Accordingly, the decision opens the door to the prosecution of some of the crimes allegedly committed against the forcefully displaced Rohingyas.

Also Read- Dhaka hopeful to begin Rohingya repatriation soon

“The crimes allegedly committed or initiated in Myanmar against the Rohingya population, particularly since August 2017, which led to the mass displacement of almost a million Rohingyas, are horrific and must not go unpunished,” insisted the special adviser. 

“We have all heard the shocking reports of: mass killings, the gang rape of women, of babies being thrown into fires, and the complete destruction of villages. The failure of the Security Council to refer the situation to the ICC for investigation, despite credible information to support these allegations and numerous calls for accountability, has been frustrating, to say the least,” Adama Dieng said.

He also noted that while the decision is a breakthrough, alleged crimes perpetrated solely on the territory of Myanmar, including conduct that could possibly amount to the crime of genocide, will be excluded from the jurisdiction of the ICC. 

The special adviser also urged the international community to continue its efforts to bring about justice for the Rohingyas.

Following a military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that began on August 25 last year, more than 700,000 Rohingyas –mostly women and children fearing for their lives – crossed over to Bangladesh. 

They joined more than 400,000 others who were already living in squalid and cramped refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.