The United Nations (UN) special adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has urged the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to immediately open a probe into atrocities against Rohingyas.
In a statement on Saturday, UN Special Adviser Adama Dieng asked ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to consider the recommendation of international court’s pre-trial chamber to decide on the opening of an investigation into the situation without delay.Adama Dieng said the decision of the chamber provides victims with an opportunity to access justice for some of the crimes they have endured, which is an important first step.
Myanmar has refused to cooperate with any impartial investigation into the matter, he said.
It is about time that countries understand that borders are not strong enough to protect those involved in the most horrible crimes committed against human beings from prosecution, he noted.
The special adviser welcomed the decision issued by the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber I, in which it concluded that the court has jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
The chamber said deportation can constitute a crime against humanity under international law.
The chamber also ruled that the court would have jurisdiction over other crimes committed, such as the crime of persecution, if at least one element of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the court - or part of such a crime - has been committed on the territory of a state party to the statute.The special adviser said the decision is a light in a very dark episode for the Rohingya people.
The decision followed a request by the Prosecutor of the ICC on April 9, 2018, in which she sought a ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber on the jurisdiction of the Court in a situation in which persons are deported from the territory of a state which is not party to the Rome Statute of the ICC into the territory of a state which is a party to the statute.
While Myanmar is not a party to the statute, Bangladesh is. Accordingly, the decision opens the door to the prosecution of some of the crimes that may have been committed against the Rohingya.
The crimes allegedly committed or initiated in Myanmar against the Rohingya population, particularly since August 2017, which led to the mass displacement of almost a million Rohingya people into Bangladesh, are horrific and must not go unpunished, insisted the special adviser.
“We’ve all heard the shocking reports of mass killings, the gang rape of women, of babies being thrown into fires, and the complete destruction of villages,” he added.
The failure of the Security Council to refer the situation to the ICC for investigation, despite credible information to support these allegations and numerous calls for accountability, has been frustrating, to say the least, he observed.
The special adviser also noted that while the decision issued on Thursday is a breakthrough, alleged crimes perpetrated solely on the territory of Myanmar, including conduct that could possibly amount to the crime of genocide, will be excluded from the jurisdiction of the ICC.
For that reason, the special adviser urged the international community to continue its efforts to bring justice to the Rohingya people.