‘I’m cautiously optimistic’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 30, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:04 AM, December 30, 2019

‘I’m cautiously optimistic’

Says foreign secy on the Gambia’s case against Myanmar in ICJ

Bangladesh is optimistic regarding the outcomes of the Gambian legal battle against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said yesterday.  

“I am cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the ICJ [hearing]. We are optimistic after seeing the lines of arguments. If you look at the case [by The Gambia], it is much stronger.

“ … It can go either way,” Shahidul said at a panel discussion on “The Rohingya Crisis: Why Accountability,” organised by the Centre for Genocide Studies of Dhaka University in the capital. 

He, however, also said that he was more optimistic about the International Criminal Court’s process on the Rohingya issue rather than the ICJ’s process.  

“Because ICC is based on a stronger footing than ICJ,” he said. 

The ICJ settles disputes between nations, while the ICC seeks to convict individuals responsible for crimes. Both courts are based in The Hague. 

The Gambia is seeking provisional measures to protect the Rohingya from further violence in Rakhine and to hold Myanmar accountable for the alleged genocide against its Rohingya minority, in a watershed legal battle that took place between December 10 and 12 at the Hague in the Netherlands.  

Bangladeshi officials said that The Hague-based principal judicial organ of the United Nations -- the ICJ -- usually gives its decision four to six weeks after a hearing. 

The Gambia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, filed a case at the ICJ on November 11. 

The prosecutor of the ICC is conducting an investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity and persecution against the Rohingyas. 

The move came more than two years after some 7,50,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military campaign in Rakhine and took shelter in Bangladesh. 

At the programme, Shahidul Haque said that the Rohingya crisis is a long-term one and is a mix of humanitarian, human rights and geopolitical crises. 

While talking about setting up barbed-wire fences around the the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, Shahidul said that the government wants to know who are entering and exiting the camp at the dead of night. “That is the rationale, we are not curtailing their right to move. We want to set up designated entry and exit points at the camp”, he added. 

On the issue of radicalisation among the Rohingyas refugees, Shahidul said some of them (refugees) are dealing with such a crisis for the first time. “We are, as a state, very nervous. We do not know what this particular population will do to us in 15 years’ time.” 

At the programme, discussants thanked The Gambia for taking Myanmar to court. They also thanked Canada and the Netherlands for supporting the Gambia in the legal battle. 

The director of the Centre for Genocide Studies in DU Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Benoit Préfontaine, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands in Dhaka Jeroen Steeghs, Liberation War Museum Trustee Mofidul Hoque and others spoke at the discussion. 

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