ICC to probe crimes against Rohingya Muslims

ICC to probe crimes against Rohingya Muslims
Hundreds of thousands have fled Myanmar in what rights groups say was the military's genocidal plan to remove the country's Rohingya Muslims.
2 min read
19 September, 2018
Rohingya refugees perform prayers on first anniversary of military crackdown [Getty]
The International Criminal Court opened a probe on Tuesday into Myanmar's persecution of Rohingya Muslims, including those under article 7 of the Rome Statute that cover crimes against humanity. 

The move is the first step towards a full investigation of a military campaign that has seen some 700,000 of the stateless minority flee the northern Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh.

It comes nearly two weeks after judges ruled that even though Myanmar has not signed up to the Hague-based ICC, the court still has jurisdiction over crimes against the Rohingya because Bangladesh is a member.

"I have decided to proceed to the next phase of the process and to carry out a full-fledged preliminary examination of the situation at hand," ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

A preliminary examination can lead to a formal investigation by the ICC - which was set up in 2002 to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity - and then possible indictments.

Bensouda said the initial probe "may take into account a number of alleged coercive acts having resulted in the forced displacement of the Rohingya people, including deprivation of fundamental rights, killing, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, destruction and looting".

She would also consider whether other crimes would apply to the plight of the Rohingya "such as the crimes of persecution and other inhumane acts".

Meanwhile, the UN released a report on Tuesday that laid out in meticulous detail a vast array of violations committed by the country's powerful military. 

It said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the atrocities were committed with the intention of destroying the stateless Rohingya, warranting the charges of "genocide". 

An internal Myanmar investigation conducted by the military was released in late 2017, clearing themselves over the reported Rohingya atrocities, and was described as "white-washing" by human rights groups.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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