Trial over Rohingya Persecution

Asean MPs hail ICC jurisdiction

Staff Correspondent

8 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Regional lawmakers have welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take cognizance of the persecution of Rohingyas by Myanmar authorities.

It has long been a legal debate as to whether the ICC can prosecute Myanmar for the persecution of religious minority which amounts to crimes against humanity and genocide.

Normally, ICC tries a country which signed and ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

As Myanmar is not a party to the Statute, it seems to be difficult for the ICC to take cognizance of Rohingya persecution.

However, legal and international relations experts think that ICC can exercise its jurisdiction over a country even if it is not a party to the Rome Statute.   

“This is a milestone decision and a step forward towards accountability for the alleged crimes against the Rohingya population,” said ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Chair Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament.

He said this ruling, however, is for now just on the jurisdiction to investigate around the alleged crime of deportation, said a press release issued by APHR from Jakarta on Friday.

It remains imperative that we continue to seek other international justice mechanisms, as well as the United Nations Security Council referral of Myanmar to the ICC for the wide array of atrocity crimes its leaders have been accused, including genocide and other crimes against humanity, he added.

“This doesn’t mean the international community can take our collective foot off the pedal,” Santiago said.

On Thursday, the ICC found that, while the underlying “coercive acts” under the alleged crime against humanity of deportation of Rohingya took place in a State not party to the Rome Statute, the Court nevertheless could assert jurisdiction as an element of the crime had also occurred on the territory of a State party to the Statute -in this case, Bangladesh.

The Court also concluded that such jurisdiction extended to other crimes of humanity under the Rome Statute, particularly those on the persecution of a group and other inhumane acts.

“The ICC now has the opportunity to initiate a full investigation. This means bringing those responsible for the alleged human rights violations to account and possibly putting an end to the longstanding discrimination and injustices this community has faced in Myanmar,” said APHR Board Member Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia.

She said this will undoubtedly bring some much-needed hope and optimism for the more than one million Rohingya who have suffered under decades of brutal tyranny in Myanmar.

“We look forward to the recommendations of the preliminary examination concerning the crimes allegedly committed against the Rohingya people and hope for a full investigation and trial of those accountable for all alleged crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC,” she added.