Myanmar rejects ICC ruling to probe Rohingya deportations

Cheryl Sanders
September 10, 2018

Myanmar's government spokesman Zaw Htay did not respond to calls seeking comment on the ICC decision, instead sending a text response: "I can't talk right now".

It reiterated the government's previously stated position that it has no obligation to respect the court's ruling because it is not a party to the treaty that established the institution.

A statement from the office of Myanmar's President Win Myint dismissed Thursday's ICC ruling as "the result of faulty procedure and is of dubious legal merit".

Rohingya refugee carries an old man in an area near no man's land on the Bangladesh side of the border with Myanmar after crossing the Naf River, after being told by border guards they were not allowed to leave the area and reach the refugee camps near Ukhia.

Earlier this year, Myanmar signed agreements with Bangladesh and United Nations agencies concerning the repatriation of the Rohingya, but it has been dragging its feet in allowing access to United Nations representatives to ensure their safe return. An estimated 700,000 have fled the violence to neighboring Bangladesh.

In August, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar found patterns of gross human rights violations committed in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan States, and called for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's top military generals.

The Myanmar army in the mainly Buddhist nation has denied any allegations, saying its campaign has been a legitimate response to Rohingya militant attacks a year ago that killed about a dozen border guard police.

In deciding to proceed with its own case, the Hague-based court used the cross-border nature of the mass exodus to bypass the challenge that Burma is not an ICC-signatory. Almost all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

The ICC ruling followed worldwide outrage triggered by the sentencing of two local Reuters journalists earlier this week for seven years in jail under a draconian state secrets act.

The journalists, who pleaded not guilty, were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim villagers by the Myanmar security forces at the time of their arrest in December.

The verdict and sentence caused global outrage.

The decision at the Hague-based court paves the way for prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to further examine whether there is sufficient evidence to file charges in the case.

A Rohingya Muslim child at Shwe Zar village during a government-organised visit for journalists in Maungdaw township, Rakhine state.

He also acknowledged that Myanmar had yet to develop adequate media freedoms, saying the country's transition to full democracy has yet to be completed.

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's civilian leader, has faced criticism for remaining silent on the jailings.

Other reports by iNewsToday