Dhaka welcomes Gambia for suing Myanmar over Rohingya genocide

DHAKA Bangladesh today welcomed Gambia for filing a case in International Court of Justice (ICJ) hours after the West African country sued Myanmar on behalf of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for committing genocide against its minority Rohingya population.

We welcome it. It's OIC's decision this is good news that OIC is taking some responsibility Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen told BSS this evening.

He added that the OIC initiated the move passing a resolution and we are happy with it.

Gambia earlier today filed a case in ICJ in The Hague, accusing Myanmar of committing genocide against its minority Rohingyas seeking the global court's urgent interventions to stop Myanmar's genocidal conduct immediately, international news agencies reported.

The African state said it was acting on behalf of the 57-nation OIC in bringing the case against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court backed by the United Nations (UN).

Bangladesh and Gambia are both OIC member states while all the three countries including Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

French news agency AFP reported that Gambia accused Myanmar of breaching the UN Genocide Convention through a bloody military campaign which drove hundreds of thousands Rohingyas into neighbouring Bangladesh.

We have just submitted our application to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention . . . The aim is to get Myanmar to account for its action against its own people: the Rohingya, international news agencies including Reuters quoted Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou as saying.

Tambadou, now in Hague, where the ICC is based, told a news conference there it was a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right under our own eyes.

Momen echoed the Gambian minister saying Rohingyas in Rakhine were being persecuted and there must be some accountability . so naturally this (OIC and Gambian) effort is most welcomed.

The Bangladesh foreign minister expected the case to mount further pressure on Myanmar to start repatriating and re-integrating their people.

I think it is high time for Myanmar to repatriate their own people that they promised us already . . . Myanmar repeatedly told us that they will take them (Rohingya) back, (but) they are not implementing (repatriation), he said.

Momen, however, said Dhaka was not in any squabble with Nay Pyi Taw but we advise that Myanmar should starting implementing its own promise (to start repatriation).

OIC in a major diplomatic breakthrough in March this year unanimously adopted a resolution to move to ICJ entrusting Gambia with the task of moving the case.

The Gambia led the process with a 10-member high-powered ministerial committee while Gambian lawyers who pursue the case in a statement said the case asked the global court to urgently order measures to stop Myanmar's genocidal conduct immediately.

The Gambian move came a month after the head of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar warned that there is a serious risk of genocide recurring as the mission submitted its final report.

The report said Myanmar should be held responsible in international legal forums for alleged genocide against the Rohingyas describing them as a majority-Muslim ethnic group that has long faced persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Myanmar's UN ambassador Hau Do Suan last month, however, called the UN fact-finding mission one-sided and based on misleading information and secondary sources.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution office in July this year sought the global court's permission to open a formal investigation to expose to justice Myanmar for committing crimes against humanity as its ICC deputy prosecutor James Stewart visited Bangladesh.

We (ICC) are a court of last resort, however, can only act, where there these crimes are not being investigated and prosecuted by the national authorities, ICC deputy prosecutor James Stewart told media at that time when he visited the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar.

He said if we are authorized to carry out the investigation we will work in strict conformity with the law, which in our case is the legal framework of the treaty of the ICC.

Legal experts and diplomats said ICJ is entrusted with the task of settling disputes among countries while ICC could expose persons concerned to punitive actions. Both the courts are based in the Hague.

Several international rights groups which continued to push the international community to act in the Rohingya crisis hailed Gambia's move while the law firm helping Gambia, Foley Hoag, said it expected the first hearings on the provisional measures to take place in ICC next month.

Gambia has found a way to turn the international community's handwringing over the Rohingya into action, Reuters quoted Param-Preet Singh of Human Rights Watch as saying.

Legal experts, however, said the ICJ has no means to enforce any of its rulings, going against the decisions of the court could further harm Myanmar's international reputation.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district and most of them arrived there since August 25, 2017 after a military crackdown by Myanmar, which the UN called a textbook example of ethnic cleansing and genocide by other rights groups.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)