Myanmar genocide case moves forward after ICJ overturns objections | Rohingya News

Judges at the United Nations’ highest court have dismissed Myanmar’s preliminary objections to a case alleging the Southeast Asian nation is responsible for genocide against the predominantly Muslim Rohingya minority.

Friday’s ruling paves the way for Gambia’s highly charged case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a process that could take years.

Myanmar, now ruled by the military, had argued that The Gambia, which had brought the suit, lacked standing to do so before the ICJ.

But presiding judge Joan Donoghue said the court found that all members of the 1948 genocide convention could and were obliged to act to prevent genocide, and that it had jurisdiction over the case.

“The Gambia, as a state party to the Genocide Convention, has standing,” she said as she read a summary of the decision. The court will now proceed to hear the merits of the case.

The British Organization of Burmese Rohingyas (BROUK) welcomed the court’s decision.

“This decision is a great moment for justice for the Rohingya and for all Burmese. This decision shows that it is possible to challenge the impunity of the army,” said Tun Khin, president of BROUK, in a press release. “Burma’s objections were nothing more than blatant delaying tactics, and we are pleased that this historic genocide trial can finally begin in earnest.”

Although the Court’s decisions are binding and countries generally follow them, it has no way of enforcing them.

In an interim ruling two years ago, the court ordered Myanmar to protect the Rohingya from genocide, a legal victory that established their right under international law as a protected minority.

The Southeast Asian nation was then represented by elected leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was deposed by the military in a February 2021 coup.

“Accelerate justice”

A small group of pro-Rohingya protesters gathered outside the court’s seat, the Peace Palace, ahead of the ruling with a banner reading, “Speed ​​up justice for the Rohingya.” Genocide survivors cannot wait for generations.

A protester stamped a large photograph of Myanmar’s military leader and coup leader, General Min Aung Hlaing.

“Since seizing power in a coup last February, the military junta’s violence and criminality have only escalated,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. , in a press release.

“Although we have witnessed strong condemnation and simple accountability from the international community, the people of Myanmar continue to suffer under this brutal regime. And while this case is just one of many paths to justice, its resolution would be a major step towards justice and a sustainable and democratic Myanmar.

Canada and the Netherlands have backed Gambia’s case before the ICJ and rights groups say more countries should follow their example.

“Jurisdiction in this matter is settled,” Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights, said in a statement. “The international community should immediately support The Gambia in this matter and support other efforts through the mechanisms to hold the Myanmar military to account for its horrific crimes against the people of Myanmar.”

Myanmar’s military launched what it called a demining campaign in Rakhine state in 2017 following an attack by a Rohingya armed group. More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, and Myanmar’s security forces have been blamed for mass rapes, murders and the burning of thousands of Rohingya homes.

Some Rohingya remained in Rakhine despite the crackdown.

More than 100,000 live in “displaced” camps that Human Rights Watch has described as “squalid and abusive” with “severe restrictions” on their movement, education and health care. Amnesty has labeled the situation of the Rohinyga in Rakhine, who are not allowed to leave the state, as apartheid.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March that the Myanmar army’s violence against the Rohingya amounted to genocide.

The ICJ adjudicates disputes between states and is not linked to the International Criminal Court, also based in The Hague, which holds individuals accountable for atrocities.

ICC prosecutors are investigating alleged crimes against the Rohingya.

BROUK also filed a genocide case in an Argentine court under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows courts to prosecute alleged violations of international law committed anywhere in the world.

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