#GlobalJustice Weekly: Calls for ICC referral as Rohingya plight worsens

Rohingya refugees queue for aid at Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh 2017 © VOA
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Calls for ICC referral as Rohingya plight worsens

The United Nations Security Council should refer Burma to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because of Burma’s failure to investigate mass atrocities against ethnic Rohingya, Human Rights Watch said this week in releasing a new question-and-answer document

Burmese authorities have failed to credibly investigate security force operations since late August 2017 that have resulted in mass arson, killing, rape, and looting, destroying hundreds of villages and forcing more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, according to Human Rights Watch, whose field research found that Burmese military abuses amount to crimes against humanity.

“Justice is desperately needed for the Rohingya population targeted by the Burmese military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing,” said Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director. “The UN Security Council should refer the situation in Burma to the ICC, which was created precisely to address situations in which grave crimes were committed without consequences.”

The group also called on UN member countries should also pursue processes for gathering criminal evidence to advance prosecutions in the ICC and other courts.

ND-Burma has further criticised the government of Myanmar for continued rights violations, stating: "The government kickstarted the month [of October] by suggesting that the more than half a million Muslims who have fled Northern Rakhine State have done so in order to ‘mislead’ the international community."  

This week, the United Nations Security Council increased pressure on Myanmar to rein in its military campaign in Rakhine state, calling on the government “to ensure no further excessive use of military force in Rakhine state, to restore civilian administration and apply the rule of law.” The statement included most of the demands contained in a draft resolution presented last month by Britain and France, but ran into strong opposition from China.

“Going forward, council members should be clear that they won’t be held hostage by China’s objections, and will instead be driven by the needs of victims and realities on the ground, not what makes China comfortable,” said Akshaya Kumar, Human Rights Watch deputy UN director.

Although Bangladesh has been accepting Rohingya refugees, Amnesty International's deputy South Asia director Omar Waraich has expressed concern about the future of the situation: "Bangladeshis are keenly aware that the humanitarian crisis has enhanced their prestige abroad, but there are worries about how their poor, densely populated country will cope... There is no sign that the refugees will be able to return to their homes anytime soon, and there is no plan to provide for their long-term needs."

The US government has said it will monitor its sanctions regime to respond to violence in Myanmar, whilst a British Foreign Office team specialising in gathering evidence of sexual violence in conflict zones has yet to be deployed to Myanmar’s refugee camps.

Ten Principles for Protecting Refugees and Internally Displaced People Arising from Burma’s Rohingya Crisis.

 

ICC investigations

Uganda: International Justice Monitor has published a study detailing the reasons why many community members in Northern Uganda are not following the trial of Dominic Ongwen. A witness in his trial has just named the senior LRA commanders who planned the Pajule attack.

DRC: Congolese troops have clashed with those loyal to a renegade colonel in Bukavu. Clashes allegedly started after police came to disarm Colonel Abbas Kayonga, who was sacked from his post on Thursday.

CAR: The UN has informed the Security Council that decisive action is needed by leaders in the Central African Republic in partnership with the international community to reverse a new spiral of violence that interrupted progress in the political transition.

 

Preliminary examinations

Nigeria: The Niger Delta Avengers has announced an immediate end to its ceasefire with the Nigerian government, stating that the Buhari administration has not been sincere with its peace talks and promises for the Niger Delta.

Iraq: The UN has urged Iraq to introduce amendments to national legislation to accept the ICC’s jurisdiction, as a UN report has concluded that ISIS has perpetrated serious and systematic violations that amount to international crimes during the nine-month military campaign to liberate Mosul City.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and UNESCO signed a Letter of Intent on Monday to strengthen Cooperation on the Protection of Cultural Heritage. The signing of the Letter of Intent took place during a panel on "Responding to Cultural Cleansing, Preventing Violent Extremism" at UNESCO Headquarters. 

President Ian Khama of Botswana has reiterated his strong support for the ICC as he prepares for the end of his term and the transition to Vice President Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi’s tenure.

 

Around the world

Human Rights Watch has stated that the ballistic missile strike by Houthi-Saleh forces in Yemen on Riyadh’s main international airport on 4 November is most likely a war crime.

New criminal complaints have been filed with the Office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor by Syrian torture survivors. The complaints, submitted by 13 Syrian women and men, concern crimes against humanity and war crimes.