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To protect Rohingya from genocide

UN court orders Myanmar

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also ordered authorities to prevent the destruction of evidence related to genocide allegations. Source : UNnews

The case against Myanmar was brought to the ICJ in November by The Gambia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), arguing that the mainly-Muslim Rohingya had been subjected to genocide.

The Rohingya primarily reside in Rakhine state in northern Myanmar, a majority Buddhist country.

More than 700,000 members fled to neighbouring Bangladesh following a reported military crackdown in August 2017 during which numerous alleged human rights abuses were committed.

According to news reports, around 600,000 Rohingya remain inside the country, and remain extremely vulnerable to attacks and persecution, said the court.

In its ruling, the ICJ imposed “provisional measures” against Myanmar, ordering the country to comply with obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Myanmar is urged to “take all measures within its power” to prevent the killing of Rohingya, or causing bodily or mental harm to members of the group, including by the military or “any irregular armed units”.

The country also has to submit a report to the ICJ within four months, with additional reports due every six months “until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court.”

Aung San Suu Kyi testimony
Last December, Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, testified at the start of court proceedings on behalf of her country and described the case as “an incomplete and misleading factual picture” of events in Rakhine state.

She told the court military leaders would be put on trial if found guilty, stressing that “if war crimes have been committed, they will be prosecuted within our own military justice system.”

Thursday’s ruling amounts to a rejection of those arguments, and the ICJ’s orders are binding on Myanmar, despite being provisional.

The court’s orders will be passed on for consideration by the UN Security Council, although a final court judgement in the case is expected to take years, according to news reports.

Court decision is binding: UN Secretary-General
UN chief António Guterres has welcomed the court decision, his spokesman said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General strongly supports the use of peaceful means to settle international disputes. He further recalls that, pursuant to the (UN) Charter and to the Statute of the Court, decisions of the Court are binding and trusts that Myanmar will duly comply with the Order from the Court,” it said.

The Secretary-General will transmit the notice about the provisional measures to the UN Security Council.

Role of the Court
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and is commonly known as the world court.

It settles legal disputes submitted by States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions referred by UN entities.

The Court is composed of 15 judges, elected to nine-year terms, and is based in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

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