Myanmar has raised objection over Gambia's eligibility in filing the November 2019 case that alleged that Myanmar's atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The objection was submitted to the International Court of Justice on January 20, 2021, more than a week before the military took control of Myanmar.
"The Republic of the Union of Myanmar filed preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of the Application, and whereas a signed copy of those preliminary objections was immediately transmitted to the other Party," according to a statement by the International Court of Justice on January 28.
The ICJ set May 20, 2021 as the time-limit within which The Gambia may present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by Myanmar. The content of the objection has not been made public by the ICJ, however.
Meanwhile, New York-based Global Justice Centre said justice for the Rohingya genocide could be delayed further due to Myanmar's objections and deferring of the time.
"ICJ's final ruling on whether Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention, and what reparations are therefore necessary, will be delayed by the time it takes for the court to hear arguments and decide on the preliminary objections, a delay of likely at least a year," the centre said, reports the Anadoulu Agency.
The Gambia filed a genocide case at the top UN Court, ICJ in November 2019, alleging violations of the Genocide Convention following 2017 brutalities against the Rohingyas.
Some 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar military launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community since August 2017.
Since August 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
In January last year, the court issued provisional measures requiring Myanmar to take actions to protect the Rohingya, including prevent genocidal acts, ensure that the military and other forces within its control do not commit genocidal acts, and preserve all evidence of genocidal acts.
It also asked Myanmar to report to the court every six months on the steps it has taken to comply with the measures. Myanmar has so far submitted two reports -- in last May and November -- and the next such report is due this May.
The Global Justice Center reported that Myanmar was due to file its counter arguments in the case this July. However, the filing of preliminary objections would "now suspend merits proceedings in the case until the issues now raised by Myanmar are adjudicated by the ICJ."