Myanmar genocide case over Rohingya atrocities could continue, UN supreme court rules

Myanmar currently administered military junta which seized power in 2021, argued that the Gambia, which filed the lawsuit, had no right to do so in the UN’s highest court, officially known as the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

But presiding judge Joan Donoghue said that all signatory states to the 1948 Genocide Convention can and should act to prevent genocide, and the court has jurisdiction in this case.

“The Gambia, as a state party to the genocide convention, has a right to exist,” she said, reading a summary of the 13-judge panel’s ruling.

Now the court will start considering the case on the merits, and this process will take years.

The Gambia supported the Rohingya cause in 2019, backed by the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, in a lawsuit aimed at holding Myanmar accountable and preventing further bloodshed.

The Gambian Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow, said in front of the courtroom that he was “very pleased” with the decision and confident that the lawsuit would win.

The Gambia got involved after his predecessor, Abubakarr Tambadu, a former prosecutor at the UN Tribunal for Rwanda, visited a refugee camp in Bangladesh and said the stories he heard brought back memories of the Rwandan genocide.

The representative of Myanmar said that the state will do everything possible to protect the “national interests” of the country in the course of further proceedings.

Protesters at the gates of the court hung a red banner reading “Free Burma” and yelled at the cars in which the junta left the building after the decision was made.

A UN fact-finding mission concluded that Myanmar’s 2017 military campaign, which expelled 730,000 Rohingyas to neighboring Bangladesh, included “acts of genocide”.

Myanmar denies the genocide, dismissing the UN findings as “biased and misguided”. It says that his crackdown was directed against the Rohingya rebels who carried out the attacks.

While the judgments of the Hague Court are binding and countries generally follow them, it has no way of enforcing them.

In a 2020 interim ruling, Myanmar was ordered to protect the Rohingya from harm, a legal victory that cemented their right under international law as a protected minority.

However, Rohingya groups and human rights activists say no meaningful effort has been made to end their systematic persecution.

The Rohingya continue to be denied citizenship and freedom of movement in Myanmar. Tens of thousands of people have been in squalid camps for displaced persons for a decade.

The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry welcomed the decision in a statement.

“Victims living in camps in Bangladesh, as well as in Myanmar, see hope that justice will be served to them and that the perpetrators in the Myanmar military will be held accountable,” said Ambia Parveen of the Rohingya Council of Europe. out of court.

The junta imprisoned Democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who personally defended Myanmar at hearings in The Hague in 2019.