“Bound to create unreasonable expectations”: Reactions to ICC judges’ decision on Myanmar Rohingya deportations

Like Rohingya Muslims
Friday, September 7, 2018 - 11:18

By Justice Hub staff

The judges at the International Criminal Court have ruled that the court has jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. But not everyone thinks it’s a good move by the court. 

The decision by judges at the ICC that the court does have jurisdiction over the alleged crimes means that it’s now up to prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to decide whether she has enough evidence of the specific crime – deportation – to file charges in the case.

Myanmar is not a member of the court. But neighbouring Bangladesh is a member. Around 700,000 Rohingya fled from a military crackdown last year. A recent UN investigation says mass killings and gang rapes were carried out by the military. And it has called for prosecutions of 5 generals and the commander in chief.

Myanmar has denied committing atrocities, saying that it was cracking down on militants. In the international justice field law professors have queried some of the detail of the judges’ decision, but weren’t surprised by the substance, like Kevin Jon Heller of the University of Amsterdam.

And those academics who helped inform the court by providing legal insights and arguments were understandably pleased.

Human rights organizations, especially those representing victims such as Paris-based FIDH were also delighted.

Mark Kersten, a fellow at the Munk School in Canada, thinks this decision is positive especially in showing how the world doesn’t necessarily need to rely on the United Nations Security Council to deliver justice.

But Douglas Guilfoyle of Monash University in Australia sees a negative side to that argument.

And he worries that the ICC isn’t without its problems already.

Dov Jacobs of Leiden University in the Netherlands also points out that this decision may set up big expectations.

“…the decision is bound to create unreasonable expectations on the part of victims in relation to the relief that the ICC can effectively bring as regards what is going on more generally in Myanmar, and over which, for the most part, the ICC will not have jurisdiction. Here, as often, the ICC and its defenders will be quick to challenge those who criticise them, without realising that they are setting themselves up to fail.”

But Fabio Rossi, who works for the ICC Prosecutor (although tweeting in a personal capacity) says despite many concerns, at least it marks a step forward:

Photo: Seyyed Mahmoud Hosseini/Tasnim News Agency (Flickr)


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