SHAFAQNA- The International Criminal Court (ICC) has approved a full investigation into Myanmar’s genocide against Rohingya Muslims including the killing of thousands of people, the rape of women and children.
The ruling, which sets a significant precedent in expanding the jurisdiction of the war crimes court, is the second move against Myanmar this week at international tribunals in The Hague.
On Monday, a submission was made by the Gambia to the international court of justice (ICJ) accusing Myanmar of genocide through the murder, rape and destruction of communities in the country’s western Rakhine state.
In its 46-page filing to the ICJ, Gambia, a mainly Muslim West African country, says Myanmar’s actions were “genocidal in character” and caused serious bodily and mental harm. Myanmar also imposed measures to prevent births, it said.
In a statement on Thursday, the Hague-based war crimes court said it “authorized the prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the alleged crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction” relating to Myanmar.
The investigation will also look at allegations of “systematic acts of violence”, deportation as a crime against humanity, and persecution on the grounds of ethnicity or religion against the Rohingya Muslims.
Citing estimates that between 600,000 and one million Rohingya Muslims were forcibly displaced, “the chamber hereby authorizes the commencement of an investigation into the situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar,” the ICC said.
“There exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as the crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.”
ICC judges also gave chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wider authority to look into crimes beyond the scope of her request and any future crimes within the court’s jurisdiction.
She was allowed to open a preliminary investigation on Myanmar in September 2018, and formally applied to begin a full-scale formal probe in July this year, press tv reported.
The ICC’s decision came after Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader, was named in an Argentine lawsuit over crimes against the Rohingya and Myanmar faced a separate genocide lawsuit at the United Nations’s top court.
Welcoming the moves towards international justice, George Graham, Director of Children and Armed Conflict at Save the Children said there was an “overwhelming need” to investigate and prosecute the crimes that had been documented.
“The scale and intensity of violence committed against the Rohingya by Myanmar security forces demands an independent and impartial hearing in a court of law,” Graham said in a statement.
“Rohingya boys and girls were killed, raped and witnessed horrific human rights violations. Approximately half a million children have been displaced into neighbouring Bangladesh – where nearly one in five are experiencing mental distress. They are entitled to their day in court”, Aljazeera told.
Myanmar has not signed up to the ICC but the court ruled last year that it has jurisdiction over crimes against the Rohingya minority because Bangladesh, where they are now refugees, is a member.
The violence in Myanmar, described by the UN as ethnic cleansing and possible genocide, included the killing of thousands of people, the rape of women and children, villages razed and more than 600,000 forced to flee over the border into Bangladesh. Marzuki Darusman, chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said last year there was an “ongoing genocide” in Rakhine.
Between 600,000 and one million Rohingya were forcibly displaced from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh from 2016 as a result of ethnic cleansing, according to numerous human rights reports, The Guardian told.
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