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Southeast Asian MPs welcome ICC jurisdiction over crimes against Rohingya

  • Published at 01:05 am September 8th, 2018
2018-06-26_MYANMAR-ROHINGYA-BATTALIONS
File photo: Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River with an improvised raft to reach Bangladesh at Sabrang near Teknaf, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh on November 10, 2017 Reuters

Charles Santiago, APHR Chair and a member of the Malaysian Parliament, said it was a 'milestone decision' and would act as a step towards creating accountability for the alleged atrocity crimes against the Rohingyas

Regional lawmakers lauded the decision taken by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which ruled that despite Myanmar's exclusion from the Rome Statute, it can now exercise jurisdiction over the alleged crime of forcefully deporting the Rohingya population.

Charles Santiago, APHR Chair and a member of the Malaysian Parliament, said it was a "milestone decision" and would act as a step towards creating accountability for the alleged atrocity crimes against the Rohingyas.

However, Santiago advised to practice caution while hoping for a positive result, as the ruling is "now just on the jurisdiction to investigate around the alleged crime".

The international community should not become lax on this issue, he said. Santiago asked for seeking other international justice mechanisms, as well as the United Nations Security Council's referral of Myanmar to the ICC for the "wide array of atrocity crimes its leaders have been accused, including genocide, and other crimes against humanity".

On September 6, the ICC found that even though the alleged crimes against humanity that caused Rohingyas to flee took place in a state not under the Rome Statute, the Court could still claim jurisdiction- as an element of the crime also occurred in Bangladesh, a state party to the Statute.

The Court also concluded that, such jurisdiction can extend to other crimes of humanity under the Rome Statute, particularly those on the persecution of a group and other inhumane acts.

APHR Board Member Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia, expressed her views by saying now that ICC has the opportunity to initiate a full investigation, it can bring those responsible for alleged human rights violations to account. It could also possibly put an end to the long-standing discrimination and injustices Rohingyas have faced for decades in Myanmar.

While hoping for a full investigation and trials of those accountable for the alleged crimes, Sundari said ICC's move would "undoubtedly bring some much-needed hope and optimism for the more than one million Rohingya who have suffered under decades of brutal tyranny in Myanmar".

APHR also said the international community, including Asean states, should continue pushing for other possible mechanisms that could bring justice for those that suffered the crimes committed across Myanmar.

Emphasis should also be put upon ensuring a safe return for the displaced community back to Myanmar from Bangladesh, with full access to rights as citizens of Myanmar, Sundari said.

The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, in August, found patterns of gross human rights violation in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States in Myanmar. It called for an investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's top military generals.

Myanmar government has continued denying any such allegations, and refused to accept the findings of the mission. It is due to deliver its full report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 18 September.