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Statement on the ICC Ruling in Burma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 6, 2018

[New York] – The Global Justice Center applauds the International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber I for recognizing the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed by Burma’s security forces that were continued into Bangladesh—including the crimes against humanity of deportation, persecution and other inhumane acts. The ICC’s decision provides the opportunity to see real accountability for the crimes committed against the Rohingya.

Since the commencement of “clearance operations” by Burma’s security forces last August, over 700,000 Rohingya have been forcibly displaced to Bangladesh. The ICC’s ruling potentially opens the door to other ongoing crimes, elements of which have occurred in Bangladesh or as a result of their displacement to Bangladesh. Forcible displacement has been found by international courts to not only be a crime against humanity itself, but also a constitutive element of genocidal acts.

The Court should ensure that women and girls are not left behind in any investigations or cases pursued. Gender was not incidental to the commission of crimes against humanity and genocide by Burmese forces—it was integral to how the crimes were committed. Burma’s military has long used sexual violence as a tactic of oppression and subjugation against ethnic minorities. The UN’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict has found that sexual violence was a “push factor or driver of forced displacement” of the Rohingya into Bangladesh. In 2014, the ICC committed to integrating a gender perspective and analysis into all of its work. Any investigation into the crimes against the Rohingya must be guided by such a perspective.

“In Burma, impunity for the military is firmly inscribed in law—the Constitution puts the military out of reach of the civilian government and justice system,” says Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center. “As a result, the Rohingya, like other ethnic groups in Burma, have suffered horrific human rights abuses at the hands of Burma’s military and security forces, with no possibility for justice or accountability in Burma’s courts. International accountability is an important starting point for justice.”

Despite worldwide condemnation of the crimes committed against the Rohingya, including crimes against humanity and genocide, there has been no justice or accountability. Today’s decision by the ICC shines a ray of hope that the Rohingya will see some measure of justice for the horrific crimes that have been committed against them.

For more information contact:
Liz Olson (New York), Global Justice Center, lolson@globaljusticecenter.net (212) 725-6530 ext. 217