Criminal Court Orders Probe into Myanmar Crimes

Newly arrived Rohingya refugees travel by boat from Myanmar on the Bay of Bengal to Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar district, Chittagong Division in Bangladesh. Credit: UNICEF/Patrick Brown
Newly arrived Rohingya refugees travel by boat from Myanmar on the Bay of Bengal to Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar district, Chittagong Division in Bangladesh. Credit: UNICEF/Patrick Brown

The Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on November 14 authorized the prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the alleged crimes in Bangladesh / Myanmar.

ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III is composed of Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia, Presiding, Judge Robert Fremr, and Judge Geoffrey Henderson.

This authorization follows the request submitted on 4 July 2019 by the prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction committed against the Rohingya people from Myanmar.

The Chamber also received the views on this request by or on behalf of hundreds of thousands of alleged victims. According to the ICC Registry, victims unanimously insist that they want an investigation by the Court.

Many of the consulted alleged victims ‘believe that only justice and accountability can ensure that the perceived circle of violence and abuse comes to an end’. The Chamber recognized all the individuals and organizations that assisted, guided and advised alleged victims throughout this process.

Download All Issues of Legal Directions
September 2018 October 2018
November 2018 December 2018
January 2019 February 2019
March 2019 April 2019
May 2019 June 2019
July 2019 August 2019
September 2019 October 2019
November 2019

The Chamber concluded that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over crimes when part of the criminal conduct takes place on the territory of a State Party. While Myanmar is not a State Party, Bangladesh ratified the ICC Rome statute in 2010.

Upon review of the available information, the Chamber accepted that there exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as the crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population.

The Chamber found no need to assess whether other crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction may have been committed, even though such alleged crimes could be part of the prosecutor’s future investigation.

Noting the scale of the alleged crimes and the number of victims allegedly involved, the Chamber considered that the situation clearly reaches the gravity threshold. According to the supporting material, an estimated 600,000 to one million Rohingya were forcibly displaced from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh as a result of the alleged coercive acts.

Noting the victims’ views, the Chamber agreed with the prosecutor that there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation into the situation would not be in the interests of justice.

Consequently, Pre-Chamber III authorized the commencement of the investigation in relation to any crime, including any future crime, as long as: a) it is within the jurisdiction of the Court, b) it is allegedly committed at least in part on the territory of Bangladesh, or on the territory of any other State Party or State accepting the ICC jurisdiction, c) it is sufficiently linked to the situation as described in the present decision, and d) it was allegedly committed on or after the date of entry into force of the Rome Statute for Bangladesh or other relevant State Party.

Now, the Office of the Prosecutor will start collecting the necessary evidence from a variety of reliable sources, independently, impartially, and objectively. The investigation can take as long as needed to gather the required evidence.

If sufficient evidence would be collected to establish that specific individuals bear criminal responsibility, the Prosecutor would then request Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III to issue either summonses to appear or warrants of arrest.

The responsibility to enforce warrants of arrest issued by an ICC Chamber remains with States. States Parties to the Rome Statute have a legal obligation to cooperate fully with the ICC. Other States may be invited to cooperate with the ICC and may decide to do so on a voluntary basis.

Support Independent Fearless Journalism

In today's media world controlled by corporates and politicians, it is extremely difficult for independent editorial voices to survive. RMN News Service has been maintaining editorial freedom and offering objective content for the past over 7 years despite enormous pressures.

In order to serve you fearlessly in this cut-throat world, RMN News Service urges you to support us financially with your donations. You can choose the amount that you want to donate from the options given below. 

You also can select any of the Payment Methods:

Offline Donation: To know our bank details for online bank transfer and payment by cheque in Indian rupees.

PayPal: To make payment by Credit / Debit Card or PayPal account.

$
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

RMN News

Rakesh Raman