Bangladesh on ICJ verdict

A victory for humanity

Bangladesh has reacted to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) rule against Myanmar as a ‘victory for humanity’. Foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen in an immediate reaction said it is ‘a victory for humanity, a milestone for human rights activists across all nations’. He said, “This is also a victory for Gambia, OIC, Rohingya and of course, for Bangladesh., God bless humanity and also the 'mother of humanity' Sheikh Hasina.'”

The World Court, the ICJ accepted all four provisional measure request in an unanimous (all 15 judges) verdict and asked Myanmar to submit a report within four months confirming measures taken. After that report, Myanmar was asked to report every six months.
The Court used the term 'Rohingya' and also rejected Myanmar’s claim that Bangladesh is not cooperating in repatriation process. The court also asked Myanmar to stop genocide and atrocities against Rohingyas.

“Such verdict hopefully will stop recurrance of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the world,” the foreign minister, who is in Ecuador, said in a mobile message. Gambia, the mainly Muslim West African country filed the suit in November, alleging Myanmar was committing ‘an ongoing genocide’ against its minority Muslim Rohingya population.

The lawsuit followed a massive exodus of Rohingya people to Bangladesh following an August 2017 military crackdown that the United Nations described as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’. International rights group called it ‘genocide’. Gambia in the case accused Myanmar of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention in a military campaign that expelled more than 730,000 Rohingya from the country.

It asked the ICJ to order “provisional measures” to prevent more harm, a first step in a legal case that is expected to go on for years. The case compelled the Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, travel to The Hague last month to defend her country against the charges. She denied that genocide was taking place and said the court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Suu Kyi, once championed in the West for her decades-long fight for democracy for Myanmar, said Myanmar did investigate and prosecute soldiers and officers accused of crimes. She said that under those circumstances, the court should not intervene. Gambia lodged its lawsuit after winning the support of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has 57 member states including Bangladesh. Only a state can file a case against another state at the ICJ.

Gambia has said Myanmar cannot be trusted to bring alleged military perpetrators of crimes against the Rohingya to justice. It has asked the court to order provisional measures for Myanmar to stop its forces committing “all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide” against the Rohingya including killing, rape and destruction of homes and villages.

Gambia also asked judges to order Myanmar to ensure any evidence of atrocities is preserved. The ICJ’s decisions are binding and not subject to appeal. But the court has no means of enforcement. Countries have occasionally ignored them or failed to adhere fully, according to media reports.

Myanmar is facing series of legal challenges around the world accusing it of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. A UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, on Thursday in Dhaka suggested forming an ‘international ad-hoc tribunal’ as complementary to ongoing efforts on accountability and justice front. She said she would provide more details about setting up the tribunal in her report to be submitted to the Human Rights Council session in March next.