ICJ orders Myanmar to take urgent steps to protect Rohingya Muslims


The International Court of Justice announced its verdict in the Rohingya genocide case at the Hague on January 23, 2020. The top court directed Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect the Muslim community from persecution.

The International court pronounced that Myanmar should take “all measures within its powers” to prevent alleged genocide against Rohingyas and also preserve evidence of alleged crimes against them.

The ruling came on a petition filed by the Gambia at the ICJ against Myanmar, alleging genocide against the minority Muslim Rohingya community. The Muslim-dominated nation had filed the lawsuit in November 2019, accusing Myanmar of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention, which prohibits signatory states from committing genocide and compels them to prevent and punish such a crime.

The Gambia had filed a suit at the International Court of Justice in November 2019, asking the court to urgently put a stop to “Myanmar’s genocidal conduct immediately”. The petition was supported by Canada, the Netherlands and the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.

The current ruling only deals with Gambia’s request for preliminary measures, the equivalent of a restraining order for states. The top court’s final decision could take years to reach.

ICJ ruling on Rohingya: Key Highlights

The 17-judge ICJ bench stated in a unanimous ruling that it believes that the Rohingya are in danger and steps must be taken to protect them.

Presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf said that the Rohingya remain “at serious risk of genocide”. The court ordered Myanmar to take all measures within its power to prevent all acts that are prohibited under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The court directed Myanmar to report back to it within four months. It also ordered the Myanmar government to exercise its military influence and influence over other armed groups to prevent the killing of Rohingya Muslims or cause serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the community.

Besides this, the court expressed its disappointment over the steps that Myanmar has claimed to have taken to enable the safe return of the Rohingya refugees camped in Bangladesh and to promote peace and stability in Rakhine state, saying that it does not appear to be sufficient.

Background

Over 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar after violence erupted in Rakhine state in August 2017. The minority community was forced to flee to neighbouring nation Bangladesh to escape persecution.

India refused to give refuge to the fleeing Rohingyas stating that they would be a threat to the nation’s national security and peace. It, however, helped out in their rehabilitation process. India had launched Operation Insaniyat in September 2017, under which, it distributed relief material consisting of necessary items such as rice, pulses, sugar, salt, cooking oil, tea, biscuits and mosquito nets, etc.

Myanmar’s military is accused of killing and inflicting other types of atrocities upon the Rohingya Muslims during a crackdown, forcing them to flee western Rakhine state. The violence is reported to have been in response to an attack on the police posts in the region. Myanmar, however, has rejected the accusations.

Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi was stripped of several awards including her honorary Canadian citizenship in October 2018 and Freedom of Oxford award in November 2017 for her alleged role in the gross human rights violations against the Rohingya people.

The ruling of the International Court of Justice is final and cannot be reviewed. However, there is no actual way of enforcing them.





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