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Top UN court orders Myanmar prevent Rohingya genocide

THE HAGUE: Recognizing the suffering of Rohingya community, the top UN court on Thursday ordered Myanmar to implement certain preventive measures against the genocide of the persecuted community.

Delivering its verdict on the case filed last month by Gambia, International Court of Justice (ICJ) President Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf declared a four-month deadline for Myanmar to take preventive measures and ensure that the Rohingya in the country would not be harmed.

Yusuf said persecuted Rohingya members were a protected group inside Myanmar under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, adding that the decision in no way “prejudges the merits of the actual case on whether Myanmar is responsible for genocide.”

The court asked Myanmar to take all precautions to implement four preventive measures against the genocide of Rohingya.

(1) Myanmar shall take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

(a) killing members of the group;

(b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group;

(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and

(d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.

(2) Myanmar shall ensure that its military, as well as any irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it and any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit any acts described in point (1) above, or of conspiracy to commit genocide, of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, of attempt to commit genocide, or of complicity in genocide.

(3) Myanmar shall take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

(4) Myanmar shall submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order within four months, as from the date of this Order, and thereafter every six months, until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court.

The ICJ also asked Myanmar to give a copy of the report to Gambia so it may submit its comments.

“Following its first report — submitted after four months of the issuance of this verdict — Myanmar will present a report of its measures taken after every six months,” the court ordered.

‘Extremely vulnerable’

The ICJ observed that Rohingya in Myanmar remain “extremely vulnerable.”

“Steps Myanmar says it is taking for repatriation of Rohingya are not enough to prevent a case under genocide convention,” the court observed.

With reference to several UN reports and UN General Assembly resolutions on the Rohingya issue, the ICJ said that Myanmar has not taken any concrete measures for the protection of Rohingya.

“Therefore the court finds real risk and prejudice,” the top judge said.

Admitting the case filed by Gambia was “plausible”, the ICJ said: “The court right now does not need to decide whether genocide has happened [but] just whether the accusations are plausible to decide whether to implement preventative measures.”

The ICJ president also said that Myanmar’s lack of response to a diplomatic note from Gambia accusing Myanmar of failing its commitments under genocide convention “may indicate a dispute between the two nations.”

The case was filed on Nov. 11, 2019 and hearings were held for three days in December of that year at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Aboubacar Tambadou, Gambia’s attorney general and justice minister, is representing the Rohingya. Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi defended the actions of her country’s army.

Since Myanmar is signatory to UN’s 1948 Prevention of Genocide Convention, it is obliged to adhere to preventive measures issued by the ICJ. However, the ICJ order does in no way prejudges merits of the case or its admissibility.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed to Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

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