The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has given The Gambia until May 20 within which the country may present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by Myanmar.
The Court has reserved the subsequent procedure for further decision.
On January 20, Myanmar filed preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the ICJ and the admissibility of the application.
A signed copy of those preliminary objections was immediately transmitted to the other Party.
Accordingly, by virtue of Article 79, paragraph 3, of the Rules of Court, the proceedings on the merits are suspended and a time-limit has to be fixed for the presentation by the other Party of a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections.
Taking account of Practice Direction V, pursuant to which the time-limit for the presentation of such a written statement shall generally not exceed four months from the date of the filing of the preliminary objections.
On Oct 23 last year, the Gambia filed a more than 500-page Memorial, which also includes more than 5000 pages of supporting material, in its lawsuit against Myanmar at the ICJ in The Hague, making its case for how the Government of Myanmar is responsible for genocide against Rohingya.
In November 2019, The Gambia opened a case at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, against Myanmar for failing to prevent or punish genocide against Rohingya Muslims.
Following the memorial filing by the Gambia, the government of Myanmar had three months to file a Counter-Memorial at the ICJ in response to The Gambia’s genocide allegations.
An estimated 600,000 Rohingya remain in Rakhine State where they face ongoing genocide. On January 23, 2020, the ICJ unanimously indicated legally binding provisional measures, requiring the Government of Myanmar to take all steps within its power to prevent the commission of all acts of genocide, such as killing, causing serious mental or bodily harm, and other acts listed in the Genocide Convention.
It also requires the government to preserve evidence of genocide and to report to the court every six months on its progress implementing the order, among other measures.
Since the court’s issuance of provisional measures, authorities in Myanmar continue to commit human rights violations against the Rohingya.
The government continues to confine more than 125,000 Rohingya to more than 20 internment camps. Hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya are confined to villages in Rakhine State.
The authorities systematically deny Rohingya the right to freedom of movement and other fundamental freedoms.
On September 22, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, presented satellite photographs of a Rohingya village-Khan Da Para, also known as Kan Kya, in Rakhine State-before and after it was attacked and destroyed in military-led “clearance operations” in August 2017.
The satellite photographs dated 2020 showed a military installation where homes once stood, raising questions about the destruction of evidence.
“Where is justice for those stranded in refugee camps in Bangladesh while facilities are constructed on their homeland for the same military that stands accused at the International Court of Justice for committing genocide against them?” said Thomas Andrews.
The provisional measures ordered by the court are binding.
Should the court find that Myanmar has failed to comply, the ICJ can issue additional measures and the UN Security Council can take up the matter.