The International Court of Justice on Thursday ordered Myanmar to take provisional steps to protect the persecuted Rohingya Muslim community, AP reported. The world court, an organ of the United Nations, said it has the preliminary jurisdiction to investigate allegations of genocide in Myanmar.
The court’s president, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the ICJ “is of the opinion that the Rohingya in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable”. The court said its order for provisional measures was binding and creates “international legal obligations” on Myanmar.
The court also ordered Myanmar to report to the judges in four months about the measures taken to comply with the order. It has to then report every six months.
In November, the Gambia had filed a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, accusing it of committing genocide against Rohingya Muslim minority. Gambia asked the international court to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct immediately”. The case was supported by the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, as well as Canada and the Netherlands.
Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi travelled to The Hague in December to argue before the court that her country was capable of investigating any allegations of abuse.
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.
Myanmar’s security forces are accused of killings, gangrape and arson during a crackdown that drove out more than 7.3 lakh people from the western Rakhine state to 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 separatists.
Just days before the ICJ ruling, a Myanmar government-appointed panel established that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that members of the security forces were among “multiple actors” who committed possible war crimes against Rohingya Muslims, but said the military was not guilty of genocide.
In September 2018, the International Criminal Court had launched a preliminary examination into the deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The court said it can exercise its jurisdiction over allegations of Rohingya deportations as a possible crime against humanity. Although Myanmar is not a part of the court, Bangladesh is, and this gave the court the right to adjudicate since the crimes were committed in Bangladeshi territory.