ICC to investigate crimes against Rohingya, the Court’s first investigation in Asia

Press release

(The Hague) FIDH and Odhikar, one of its member organisations, welcome today’s decision by a panel of Pre-Trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to authorise the opening of an investigation into international crimes in the Court’s jurisdiction committed against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim population.

“In contrast with the rejection of an Afghanistan investigation earlier this year, the authorisation of an investigation into the situation of Bangladesh/Myanmar demonstrates that the ICC remains a central agent in the fight against impunity in the Asia region."

Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Secretary General

The Bangladesh/Myanmar investigation will cover crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar nationals against the Rohingya population. These crimes began on the territory of Myanmar but an essential part of them occurred in Bangladesh. They include deportation of the Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion. Additional crimes that may fall under the Court’s jurisdiction may be identified in the course of the Prosecutor’s investigation.

"We hope that the investigation will identify a wider range of crimes and fully reflect the large scale and atrocious commission of sexual and gender-based crimes against Rohingya women and children as one of the means to deport the Rohingya population."

Guissou Jahangiri, FIDH Vice President

This week marks historic and unprecedented advances in the field of international law and international justice, by seeking to hold to account those responsible for atrocities inflicted upon the Rohingya population, including individuals bearing the highest responsibility as well as the state of Myanmar.

On Monday, The Gambia instituted proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, alleging violations of the Genocide Convention with regard to the Rohingya population.

Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed before a court in Argentina in application of the universal jurisdiction principle for crimes against humanity committed against Rohingya. The lawsuit identified top leaders of the Myanmar government as the individuals responsible for those crimes.

“We call on all ICC States Parties to provide full political and operational backing to the Court in implementing its mandate in the Bangladesh/Myanmar investigation. We also urge Myanmar to take note of this week’s developments, which signal that impunity for the continued atrocities committed against Rohingya will not prevail.”

Amal Nassar, FIDH’s Permanent Representative to the ICC

Our organisations welcomed the Prosecutor’s earlier efforts to attain accountability for these crimes through seeking to establish jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya population by Myanmar, despite Myanmar being a non-State Party to the ICC. This novel interpretation of the Rome Statute confirmed by ICC judges in September 2018, asserted that the Prosecutor may investigate international crimes committed against the Rohingya so long as they occurred, in part, on the territory of a State Party, in this instance, Bangladesh. Following the submission of the ICC Prosecutor’s request to investigate such crimes, thousands of victims submitted their views to the Chamber and spoke overwhelmingly in favour of an ICC investigation.

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