The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today requested its judges to authorise an investigation into crimes against humanity, namely deportation, other inhumane acts and persecution against the Rohingyas.
In her request to the judges, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, said the requested authorisation to investigate the situation covers the period since the 9th of October 2016 until the recent waves of violence in Rakhine State on the territory of Myanmar as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events.
The request follows her prosecutors’ office's thorough preliminary examination which, in its assessment, concluded that the legal conditions required under the Rome Statute to open an investigation have been met, according to a press statement of the ICC.
The progress in the ICC comes when Myanmar security forces and insurgents are accused of committing human rights violations against civilians in restive western states that may amount to fresh war crimes.
On the 9th of April last year, the ICC prosecutor filed a request with the court for a legal ruling on the question of jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
The second phase of the preliminary examination in the regard started last September, following the judges' ruling in response to the request, which confirmed that the Court may assert jurisdiction pursuant to article 12(2)(a) of the Statute, "if at least one element of a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court or part of such a crime is committed on the territory of a State Party to the Statute."
The prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that at least 700,000 Rohingya people were deported from Myanmar to Bangladesh through a range of coercive acts and that great suffering or serious injury has been inflicted on the Rohingya through violating their right to return to their State of origin.
More specifically, the information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that, in the context of the 2017 wave of violence, the following crimes were committed in part on the territory of Myanmar and in part on the territory of Bangladesh.
She said although the coercive acts forcing the Rohingya population to flee took place on the territory of Myanmar, the victims crossed the border—an essential element for the crime of deportation—by entering into the territory of Bangladesh;
Fatou Bensouda said as Myanmar is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, but Bangladesh is, it is important to bear in mind that the authorisation to investigate, if granted by the judges, would not extend to all crimes potentially committed in Myanmar, but will focus on crimes allegedly committed in part on the territory of Bangladesh.
Investigating deportation will, however, mean taking a close look at the alleged violence that left the Rohingya no genuine choice but to flee Myanmar.
Fatou Bensouda has determined that there are no substantial reasons to believe that the opening of an investigation would not serve the interests of justice, taking into account the gravity of the crimes and the interests of victims.
As per the applicable rules, the prosecutor notified victims or their legal representatives, of her intention to request authorisation to initiate an investigation in the situation in Bangladesh or Myanmar informing them that they have until 28 October 2019 to submit representations to the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III on her Request.