Lawmakers from Southeast Asian countries on Friday welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court, which ruled that it has jurisdiction to probe the forced exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar as a possible crimes against humanity.
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights in a statement from Jakarta hailed the decision of ICC as ‘milestone’ and added that it has now opened the door for a full investigation.
‘This is a milestone decision and a step forward towards accountability for
the alleged atrocity crimes against the Rohingya population,’ said APHR chair Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament.
AHPR made the statement against the backdrop that since August 25, 2017, more than 7.25 lakh ethnic minority Rohingyas, fleeing violence and systemic discrimination in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, have found shelter and safety in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.
A study presented in Queens College of UK’s Oxford University in August by a group researcher from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Philippines, and Norway said an estimated 25,000 Rohingyas were murdered and 19,000 Rohingya women and adolescents were raped in Rakhine in post-August 2017.
On Thursday, the ICC found that, while the underlying ‘coercive acts’ under the alleged crime against humanity of deportation of Rohingya took place in a state not party to the Rome Statute, the court nevertheless could assert jurisdiction as an element of the crime had also occurred on the territory of a state party to the Statute –in this case, Bangladesh.
The ruling means that the ICC’s chief prosecutor can now open a preliminary investigation that could lead to a wider probe and eventually a trial.
‘The ICC now has the opportunity to initiate a full investigation’ APHR board member Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia, said.
‘This means bringing those responsible for the alleged human rights violations to account and possibly putting an end to the longstanding discrimination and injustices this community has faced in Myanmar,’ Sundari said.
‘We look forward to the recommendations of the preliminary examination concerning the crimes allegedly committed against the Rohingya people and hope for a full investigation and trial of those accountable for all alleged crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC,’ she added.
In the meantime, the international community, including ASEAN states, must continue pushing for other potential mechanisms that could bring accountability and justice for all those victims of crimes across Myanmar and ensure those displaced can return, APHR said.
In August, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar found patterns of gross human rights violations committed in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan States, and called for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s top military generals.
The Myanmar government has since continued to deny such allegations and have refused to
accept the findings of the mission.
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