Rohingya Muslims remain “at serious risk of genocide” in Myanmar, the International Court of Justice has ruled.
The United Nations’ court, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect Rohingyas from persecution and atrocities.
In a ruling on Thursday, it also called on the southeast Asian country – sometimes known as Burma – to preserve evidence of alleged crimes against Rohingyas.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s journey from hero to the Hague
The International Court of Justice, the highest body for disputes between states, is currently considering a lawsuit against Myanmar launched by African country Gambia, a Muslim-majority nation.
Gambia has accused Buddhist-majority Myanmar of violating its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
It is only the third genocide case filed at The Hague since the Second World War.
Thursday’s ruling only dealt with Gambia’s request for so-called preliminary measures against Myanmar.
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The court decided Myanmar should “take all measures within its power to prevent all acts” prohibited under the 1948 convention and must report back within four months.
The country’s government was also ordered to exercise influence over its military and other armed groups to prevent “killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life intended to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
“The court is of the opinion that the Rohingya in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable,” said Abdulqawi Yusuf, the court’s presiding judge.
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More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar’s western Rakhine state after a military-led crackdown in 2017, and were forced into camps across the border in neighbouring Bangladesh.
UN investigators have previously said Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya with “genocidal intent”.
The atrocities have trashed the international reputation of Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for championing democracy and human rights under Myanmar’s then-ruling junta.
In an article for the Financial Times on Thursday, ahead of the court’s ruling, Ms Suu Kyi admitted that war crimes “may have been committed by members of her country’s military.
“War crimes that may have been committed by members of the defence services will be prosecuted through our military justice system,” she wrote.
“It is never easy for armed forces to recognise self-interest in accountability for their members, and then follow through with actual investigations and prosecutions.”
However, Ms Suu Kyi also accused human rights groups and some refugees of making “unproven statements” and presenting “a distorted picture” in their reports.
“The international justice system may not yet be equipped to filter out misleading information before shadows of incrimination are cast over entire nations and governments,” she said.
In 2017, Ms Suu Kyi claimed the crisis in Rakhine state was being distorted by a “huge iceberg of misinformation”.
Source : Sky News