Decisions the International Criminal Court (ICC) will have to take regarding the Rohingya case could have international implications.
OVER half a million Rohingya have been forced from their homes in Myanmar since 2016, with most crossing the border into Bangladesh. At a time when the number of refugees and internally displaced are the highest in decades globally, addressing root causes and ensuring accountability are important.
Representatives of the UN Security Council recently concluded a fact-finding visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh. The possibility of Myanmar investigating and pursuing accountability for the atrocities that have been committed was raised.
This has been met with much scepticism, given denial on the part of the Myanmar government regarding any responsibility for the mass exodus of the Rohingya. There are also growing calls for the UNSC to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Recent developments are now refocusing attention on the forced movement of individuals across borders, viewed through the lens of international accountability.
Deportation as a crime against humanity
In an unprecedented move, the prosecutor of the ICC is seeking to assert the jurisdiction of the court for the deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh. This is based on Article 7 of the Rome Statute which includes “deportation or forcible transfer of population” as a crime against humanity. In her motion of 9 April 2018, the prosecutor argues that deportation requires the crossing of an international border and hence, the court has jurisdiction – due to the fact that Bangladesh is a party to the Rome Statute, even though Myanmar is not. Judges of the ICC have been asked to determine whether the prosecutor can proceed in this case.