Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou on Monday said they have filed a case against Myanmar at the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, accusing it of committing genocide against Rohingya Muslim minority, AP reported. Gambia asked the international court to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct immediately”.
The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the United Nations’ highest legal institution that rules on disputes between states.
Tambadou told AP that he wanted to send a clear message “to Myanmar and to the rest of the international community that the world must not stand by and do nothing in the face of terrible atrocities that are occurring around us”.
Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which prohibits states from committing genocide and compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.
“It is a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right before our own eyes,” the minister added.
Myanmar security forces are accused of killings, gangrape and arson during a crackdown that drove more than 730,000 people to flee western Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh after some Rohingya insurgents attacked police posts in August 2017. However, Myanmar has rejected the accusations and maintained that the crackdown only targeted militant separatists.
It even dismissed a report last September by a UN-appointed panel that said military officers carried out the campaign against the Rohingya with “genocidal intent” and that they should stand trial.
Last month, a head of the UN fact-finding mission also warned that “there is a serious risk of genocide recurring”.
In a statement Tambadou said: “Gambia is taking this action to seek justice and accountability for the genocide being committed by Myanmar against the Rohingya, and to uphold and strengthen the global norm against genocide that is binding upon all states”.
Human rights groups that have been advocating for the international community to act against Myanmar hailed Gambia’s decision. Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called the case a “game changer” and urged other states to support it.
If the Hague-based court takes up the case, this will be the first time it has investigated genocide claims on its own without relying on the findings of other tribunals, The Guardian reported.
Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.