ICJ rules in favour of Gambia in Myanmar Genocide case

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Thursday ruled in favour of The Gambia in the genocide case it filed against Myanmar on the request for the indication of provisional measures to protect the minority Rohingya Muslims.

In November, Gambia submitted a 46-page application to the ICJ, alleging that the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has violated its obligations under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide for its genocidal actions against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority that lives in Myanmar.

In the Thursday order, the court unanimously concluded that The Gambia has a premafaci standing to submit to it the dispute with Myanmar on the basis of alleged violations of obligations under the genocide convention.

It also noticed that the applicant instituted proceedings in its own name and that it maintains that it has a dispute with Myanmar regarding its own rights under the convention.

In the view of the court, the fact that The Gambia sought  and obtain the support of other states or international organisations in its endeavour to seize the court  does not preclude the existence between the parties of  a dispute relating to the genocide convention.

The case is not a criminal case against individual alleged perpetrators, but a legal determination of state responsibility for genocide. Gambia has asked the court for provisional measures to require Myanmar to immediately take all steps to prevent genocidal acts, including to stop and prevent further genocidal acts; to ensure that security forces do not commit or incite genocidal acts; and to preserve all evidence related to the military’s crimes.

Gambia’s Attorney General and minister of justice, Abubacarr Tambedou said, “the aim is to get Myanmar to account for its action against its own people: the Rohingya.”

The court recalls that for the purpose of deciding the issue, it takes into account any document or statement exchange between the parties any exchanges made in multilateral sittings.

The court also noticed that Myanmar for its part denied committing any of the violations of genocide convention as alleged by The Gambia, arguing in particular the absence of any genocidal intent.

In the court’s view, the Rohingya in Myanmar appeared to constitute a protected group within the meaning of article two of the genocide convention and that the measures Myanmar took to protect the Rakhine state is not sufficient.

In 2018, the United Nations independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar concluded that “the actions of those who orchestrated the attacks on the Rohingya read as a veritable check-list” on how to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. The mission concluded in 2019 that “the State of Myanmar breached its obligation not to commit genocide under the Genocide Convention.”

The court indicated that Myanmar shall submit all measures it has taken towards the protection of the Rohingya Muslims within four months and six months thereafter.

Gambia’s filing was the first from a country without any direct connection to the alleged crimes that used the country’s membership in the genocide convention to bring a case before the ICJ.

Gambia, a small West African country, has only recently emerged from the repressive 22-year rule of former president Yahya Jammeh and its own history of human rights violations.

Story written by Juldeh Njie

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