Myanmar rejects int’l court’s right to Rohingya probe

Leroy Wright
September 10, 2018

Previously, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said she had contacted the Myanmar government in relation to the imprisonment of the journalists.

This photograph taken on September 12, 2017 shows Rohingya refugees arriving by boat at Shah Parir Dwip on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River after fleeing violence in Myanmar.

While Myanmar is not a member of The Hague-based court, Bangladesh is - and the cross-border nature of deportation was sufficient for jurisdiction, the ICC said in its ruling.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) flexed its muscles Thursday with its unprecedented ruling that it had the power to investigate the forced deportation of Rohingya to Bangladesh, even though Myanmar has not signed the statute underpinning the tribunal.

The pair were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims at Inn Din village in northern Rakhine state as part of an offensive previous year by the Myanmar Army after Rohingya rebels launched a series of attacks on security posts in the region.

The move comes days after United Nations investigators called for an global investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's army chief and 5 other top military commanders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Rohingya.

Myanmar has come under intense pressure in recent weeks over its crackdown on the Rohingya, a group it denies citizenship to.

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But across the border, Myanmar is outside its jurisdiction.

The ICC ruling followed worldwide outrage triggered by the sentencing on Monday of two Reuters news agency journalists - both Myanmar nationals - to seven years in jail under a draconian state secrets act.

If enough evidence is found, a full probe will be opened which could result in a trial.

Set up in 2002 in The Hague, the ICC acts to prosecute the worst abuses including genocide in places where national courts are unwilling or unable to act.

One legal expert said that this offered a new path, given that Myanmar refuses to cooperate in any investigation into the flights and the reported killings and mass rape of the Rohingya.

Last August, the Myanmar army started a brutal crackdown in Rakhine state, allegedly in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on police posts and a military base.

An investigation into the Rohingya deportations would be the third for the ICC in Asia, which is already tentatively probing alleged crimes committed during the Philippines' so-called "war on drugs campaign" and the conflict in Afghanistan.

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