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ICJ orders Burma to prevent genocide against the Rohingya

23 Jan 2020

CSW welcomes an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on 23 January ordering the government of Burma (Myanmar) to take immediate “provisional measures” to prevent genocide against the Rohingya. The court also ordered Burma to preserve evidence of alleged crimes against the Rohingya.

The ICJ adopted the unanimous decision after a three day hearing which took place from 10-12 December 2019. During the hearing, Burma’s state counsellor, and de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, drew international criticism for defending the Burmese military, the Tatmadaw, against charges of genocide.

The charges were brought to the ICJ by The Gambia in November 2019. 60 countries supported the case, namely Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and all 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The ruling states: “Myanmar shall, in particular, ensure that any military, paramilitary or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit any act of genocide, of conspiracy to commit genocide, or direct and public incitement to commit genocide, or of complicity in genocide, against the Rohingya group.”

Burma has been ordered to report to the ICJ on its compliance with the measures in four months’ time, and every six months thereafter.

In August 2017, the Burmese military began an offensive in Rakhine state which resulted in over 700,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh, thousands killed, and hundreds of villages burned. Reports of the atrocities perpetrated during the mass violence against the Rohingyas include the burning of homes, schools and mosques, the burning to death of individuals inside their homes, mass rape, torture, execution without trial, and the blocking of humanitarian aid.

In August 2018 the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar published a report in which it recommended that Burma’s top military generals should be investigated and prosecuted for the crime of genocide in Rakhine State.

Earlier this week an Independent Commission of Enquiry created by the Burmese government submitted its final report to the President of Myanmar, which stated that while the military may have been responsible for war crimes against the Rohingya, there was no evidence of genocide.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW welcomes today’s ICJ ruling as an important step towards holding the Burmese authorities to account for the crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya people. We call on the government of Burma to comply fully with the ruling by bringing an end to all violations against the Rohingya, as well as against other religious and ethnic minorities in the country. It is vital that the international community maintains pressure on Burma and ensures that justice is fully served.  We therefore call on the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court to enable further scrutiny.”



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