Myanmar rejects International Criminal Court’s  jurisdiction in Rohingya crisis

Rohingya refugees attend a ceremony organised to remember the first anniversary of a military crackdown that prompted a massive exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia on August 25, 2018.

YANGON (Reuters) — Myanmar’s government said on Friday it “resolutely rejects” a ruling from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that said the body has jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity.

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

“Furthermore, allegations consisting of charged narratives of harrowing personal tragedies which have nothing to do with the legal arguments in question were permitted, thereby putting emotional pressure on the Court,” the statement said, referring to submissions requested by the court.

The decision from the Hague-based court opened the way for its prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to further examine whether there is sufficient evidence to file charges against any Myanmar officials, although she has not done so yet.

An independent UN fact-finding mission in August concluded that Myanmar’s military last year carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent” and the commander-in-chief and five generals should be prosecuted for orchestrating the gravest crimes under law.

About 700,000 Rohingya fled the crackdown, according to UN agencies, and most are now living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Although Myanmar is not a member of the Hague-based court, Bangladesh is, and the cross-border nature of deportation was sufficient for jurisdiction, the ICC said in Thursday’s ruling.

Myanmar has denied allegations of atrocities made against its security forces by refugees, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants.

In Friday’s statement, the Southeast Asian nation repeated its position that, not being a party to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, it was under no obligation to respect its rulings.

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