A pre-trial bench of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday asked the Myanmar authorities to submit observations on if the court has territorial jurisdiction of opening an investigation into the forced displacement of ethnic minority Rohingyas to Bangladesh.
The court also asked Myanmar to inform the court about the circumstances surrounding the crossing of the border by Rohingyas from the country into Bangladesh.
After a closed-door hearing at The Hague on Wednesday, the ICC passed the order requesting Myanmar to provide the observations by July 27, diplomatic sources said.
ICC judges Péter Kovács, the presiding judge of the bench, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou issued the order as prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought a ruling on the question ‘whether the court may exercise’ ‘territorial jurisdiction’ to open a probe into the alleged acts of expulsion of Rohingyas.
Bangladesh submitted observations to the ICC on June 11 agreeing with the prosecutor that the court had jurisdiction for opening an investigation into the expulsion Rohingyas from Myanmar.
Bensouda, a Gambian national, was pursuing for an expedited decision from the court on its jurisdiction as well as granting her permission to launch a preliminary examination of the matter collecting information and evidence.
The prosecutor, if necessary, might issue warrant through the court asking the alleged perpetrators involved in the crimes mentioned in the case documents, officials said.
It would be a legal obligation for some 123 ICC-member countries to comply with a warrant, if issued, by detaining the persons accused in the cases under considerations of the court, diplomats said, adding that non-party countries would also be under moral obligation to execute the warrant to demonstrate that they are respectful to international laws.
Bensouda claimed in her filing that her office could exercise authorities to investigate the matter as Bangladesh was a member of the Rome Statue. She contended that the crime of deportation ‘is like a cross-border shooting’ and ‘not completed until the bullet [fired in one state] strikes and kills the victims [standing in another state]’.
Myanmar de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s office claimed in a statement in April that the ICC had no jurisdiction over ‘states which have not accepted that jurisdiction.’
The latest spate of Rohingya crisis began last year as about 7,00,000 ethnic minority people of Myanmar, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh fleeing unbridled murder,
arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by country's military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide.
The ongoing Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.
The two governments signed three instruments since November 23, 2017, for return of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals sheltered in Bangladesh after October 2016, as the Rohingya exodus from Rakhine State continued.
The ICC trial, if held, would also be an opportunity for the Myanmar authorities to engage with the ICC for establishing
its credibility and
reputation as a state by cooperating the court in making persons found engaged in the crimes, an official said.
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