Myanmar: World court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya

In response to today’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Myanmar to take “provisional measures” to prevent genocidal acts against the Rohingya community, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin, said:

Today’s decision sends a message to Myanmar’s senior officials: the world will not tolerate their atrocities, and will not blindly accept their empty rhetoric on the reality in Rakhine State today.
Nicholas Bequelin

“Today’s decision sends a message to Myanmar’s senior officials: the world will not tolerate their atrocities, and will not blindly accept their empty rhetoric on the reality in Rakhine State today. An estimated 600,000 Rohingya who remain there are routinely and systematically denied their most basic rights. They face a real risk of further atrocities.

“Myanmar must comply with the ICJ’s ruling and take immediate action to cease ongoing violations against the community and to prevent the destruction of evidence.

“The decision comes just days after Myanmar published a summary report of the findings of the government-established ‘Independent Commission of Enquiry’. The Commission was neither independent nor impartial and cannot be considered a credible effort to investigate these crimes against the Rohingya. Meanwhile, there have been no efforts to investigate the serious and wide-ranging violations against other ethnic minorities or elsewhere in the country. 

“Until all those responsible for serious violations – including those with command responsibility – are held to account, these atrocity crimes will remain rampant. The UN Security Council must urgently refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.”

Background

On 11 November 2019, the Gambia filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Myanmar of breaching its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention. The complaint included an urgent request for the Court to order “provisional measures” to prevent all acts that may amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide against the Rohingya and protect the community from further harm while the case is being adjudicated.

Public hearings on provisional measures were held in the Hague on 10-12 December 2019. Myanmar’s delegation, headed by State Counsellor and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, rejected accusations of genocide, and urged the court to reject the case and refuse the request for provisional measures.

On Monday 20 January 2020, the Myanmar government -established Independent Commission of Enquiry submitted its final report to the President of Myanmar. The Commission concluded that while the Myanmar security forces may have been responsible for war crimes and “disproportionate use of force”, it found no evidence of genocidal intent. The full report has yet to be made public.