Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

ICC says it can rule on alleged crimes against Rohingya

ICC says it can rule on alleged crimes against Rohingya

Myanmar's government said on Friday it "resolutely rejects" a ruling from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that said the body has jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity.

"We look forward to the recommendations of the preliminary examination concerning the crimes allegedly committed against the Rohingya people and hope for a full investigation and trial of those accountable for all alleged crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC", Sundari said.

"The reason is that an element of this crime (the crossing of a border) took place on the territory of a State party to the Statute (Bangladesh)", the ruling said. Adilur Rahman Khan, vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights, said in a statement.

But in a stinging response late Friday from a government besieged by criticism, Myanmar said the decision was "of dubious legal merit".

Myanmar's government spokesman said on Friday a court that convicted two Reuters journalists under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act was independent and followed due process, after worldwide calls for the pair to be released.

On Aug. 25, 2017, Myanmar launched a major military crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority, killing nearly 24,000 civilians and forcing 750,000 others, including women and children, to flee to Bangladesh, according to the Ontario International Development Agency.

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"Amnesty International has documented extensively how the military's crackdown also included murder, rape, torture, forced starvation, the targeted burning of Rohingya villages and the use of landmines", he added.

But across the border, Myanmar is outside its jurisdiction.

The Southeast Asian nation voiced "serious concern" over the prosecutor's move, saying that the ICC's charter in fact did not state that it had jurisdiction to investigate a country that had not signed up to the Rome Statute that governs the court.

But the road to a tribunal will be long and complex, with China likely try to thwart any prosecution of its ally at the world's only permament war crimes court.

The Myanmar army in the mainly Buddhist nation has denied any allegations, saying its campaign has been a legitimate response to Rohingya militant attacks a year ago that killed about a dozen border guard police.

Through an unprecedented ruling on Thursday, the ICC empowered itself to probe alleged crimes against the Rohingya, even though Myanmar is not an ICC member.

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