UN top court set to decide on The Gambia’s genocide case vs. Myanmar


Staff Report

The Gambia’s genocide case against Myanmar will be decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, on Thursday January 23, on the request for the indication of provisional measures  — an order demanding Myanmar stop harming the Rohingyas while the court considers the full case.

A public sitting will take place at 10 a.m. at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, President of the Court, will read the Court’s Order.

The case before the ICJ is for limited purposes only, and is not a criminal case but a legal determination of state responsibility for genocide.The court has no means to enforce any of its rulings.

Meanwhile, a Myanmar government commission has concluded in a report released on Monday (Jan 20), that the military operations against the Muslim Rohingya community in the country’s Rakhine state in 2017 were marked by war crimes and serious human rights violations, but did not have “genocidal intent”.

Formed by Myanmar in 2018 to investigate accusations of war crimes that killed thousands of Rohingya and forced over 740,000 others to flee to safety in Bangladesh, the report by the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) was presented to Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

“There is insufficient evidence to argue, much less conclude, that the crimes committed were undertaken with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” a ruling required to establish a finding of genocide, the report says, contradicting findings and statements by U.N. investigators.

The report was compiled from interviews with nearly 1,500 Rohingya and other ethnic group members, and with members of the military and police.

More than 740,000 Rohingya have fled from Rakhine State, western Myanmar, to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape a military crackdown on insurgents.

U.N.-appointed independent investigators have said hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya who remain in Myanmar may face a greater threat of genocide than ever amid government attempts to “erase their identity and remove them from the country,” citing “killings, rapes and gang rapes, torture, forced displacement and other grave rights violations” by the Myanmar military.

Gambia, a small but predominantly Muslim African country, submitted a lawsuit last November against Buddhist-majority Myanmar to the International Court of Justice, with support from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

It argued that Myanmar had violated the 1948 Genocide Convention through the military’s “genocidal acts” against the Rohingya minority, an allegation that the Myanmar government vehemently denies.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. (hm/Rights Corridor) *With reports from Radio Free Asia