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Rohingya Genocide

ICJ to hold public hearings against Myanmar from February 21

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 20 January, 2022 12:00 AM
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The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will hold public hearings in the case concerning Rohingya genocide case in Myanmar.

Hearings on the ‘Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’ (The Gambia v. Myanmar) will be held from February 21 to 28 at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the Court.

The hearings will be devoted to the preliminary objections raised by Myanmar, according to a press release of the ICJ.

In view of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the hearings will be held in a hybrid format. Some Members of the Court will attend the oral proceedings in person in the Great Hall of Justice while others will participate    remotely by video link. Representatives of the Parties to the case will participate either in person or by video link.

The case against Myanmar was brought to the ICJ in November 2019 by The Gambia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), arguing that the mainly-Muslim Rohingya had been subjected to genocide.

More than one million Rohingya Muslim minority populations fled to Bangladesh following a reported military crackdown in August 25, 2017 during which numerous alleged human rights abuses were committed.

The Gambia instituted proceedings against Myanmar before the ICJ alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”) through “acts adopted, taken and condoned by the Government of Myanmar against members of the Rohingya group”.

Specifically, The Gambia argues that “from around October 2016 the Myanmar military and other Myanmar security forces began widespread and systematic ‘clearance operations’ -- the term that Myanmar itself uses -- against the Rohingya group.

The genocidal acts committed during these operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses. From August 2017 onwards, such genocidal acts continued with Myanmar’s resumption of ‘clearance operations’ on a more massive and wider geographical scale.”

Earlier, the ICJ imposed “provisional measures” against Myanmar, ordering the country to comply with obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. 

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945 and began its activities in April 1946. The Court is composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations.

The Court has a twofold role: first, to settle, in accordance with international law, through judgments which have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned, legal disputes submitted to it by States; and, second, to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorized United Nations organs and agencies of the system.