Thursday, January 23, 2020

ICJ Rules in Gambia’s Favour, Orders Myanmar to Protect Rohingya

Judges unanimously agreed Myanmar had caused "irreparable damage" to rights of the Rohingya people - seen in this photo at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh in October 2017 (Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency)

The International Court of Justice on Thursday ruled in favour of The Gambia by ordering “provisional measures” to prevent further acts of genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar.

The Gambia filed a suit against Myanmar two months ago accusing the Asian-nation of committing "an ongoing genocide” against its minority Muslim Rohingya population.

The suit, according to the Muslim-majority West African nation, was brought in response to Myanmar’s “violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention”.

In its ruling, the World Court rejected Myanmar’s request to dismiss The Gambia’s case.

Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, presiding, ordered Myanmar “to take all measures within its power” to prevent all acts of genocide against the Rohingya, and “to ensure the preservation” of all evidence related to the allegations of genocide.

Hours before the ruling, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, admitted the Rohingya may have been [victims of war crimes] as a result of her country’s military crackdown.

This new position is a break from Suu Kyi’s government denial of acts of war crimes and genocide allegedly committed against the Rohingya. 

“War crimes that may have been committed by members of the Defence Services will be prosecuted through our military justice system,” Aung San Suu Kyi wrote in an opinion article published in the Financial Times Thursday.

The provisional measures to protect the minority Muslim group are a first step in the legal case against Myanmar which The Gambia said it hopes to fully pursue.

“These provisional measures are binding under international law, and The Gambia fully expects Myanmar to comply with them,” Justice Minister Abubacar Tambadou said in a statement Thursday. 

“…The Gambia looks forward to pursuing its case against Myanmar to a final judgment of the Court on the merits and on damages,” Tambadou, a former prosecutor of crimes of genocide at the UN Tribunal for Rwanda, said.

Since 2017, thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in western Rakhine State have been subjected to killings, torture and rape, according to the United Nations and human rights groups. 

Nearly 800, 000 Rohingya have been forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

A panel of 17 judges unanimously agreed Thursday that the Myanmar government had "caused irreparable damage to the rights of the Rohingya".

Written by Modou S. Joof

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