On Thursday 23rd January, the Human Rights team at Global Human Rights Defence attended an event hosted by No Peace Without Justice enabling members of the Rohingya community to reply to the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of The Gambia v Myanmar.
Following up on the previous event held on the 11th December 2019, the event focused on the granting of provisional measures by the (ICJ) against Myanmar instructing them they must take action to stop the violent acts currently happening and prevent genocide from occurring in the region.
The panel was composed of four members of the Rohingya community alongside a live video feed from those living in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. When asked how they felt about the proceedings of the day, they answered that it was a “historic day”, not only for the Rohingya but all those persecuted.
The participants reflected on the hardships faced by the Rohingya community in Rakhine State including the travel ban imposed on the community, harassment and sexual abuse, and the blocking of humanitarian aid to the region. It was a poignant reminder of the reality of the situation when those participating via video link from the refugee camps in Bangladesh had to end their call due to imposed curfews.
The event was also attended by The Gambia’s legal team who spoke of the strength of the Rohingya community in the face of these tragedies and highlighted that this was not only a great day for the Rohingya but for all of international law.
The event was an incredibly informative and emotional event, focused on the suffering and strength of the Rohingya community and all persecuted minorities around the world. Whilst the ICJ’s decision is not an all-fixing solution to the problems in Myanmar, it is an important first step in recognising the horrors suffered by the Rohingya people and in holding States accountable for their actions and policies.
What was the decision of the International Court of Justice?
On 11thth November 2019, the Gambia filed a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice alleging their failure to uphold their obligations under the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in relation to crimes committed against the Rohingya. The Gambia asked for provisional measures, which are orders by the Court against a party (Myanmar in this instance) to prevent them taking further action which could create more harm to the victims or aggravate the dispute.
The ICJ on the 23rd January 2020 found unanimously in favour of the Gambia and ordered measures which are unprecedented in the history of the Court. These include:
- Ordering Myanmar to submit a report in four months on actions they are taking to prevent genocide and, following this, filing a report every six months on the situation until a final decision in the case is rendered
- Myanmar must take action to preserve evidence with the Court recognising that the Northern Rakhine state is a crime scene; and
- Myanmar must take action to prevent any further genocidal acts being committed by its military or those under its control.
Whilst it is important to remember that this is only the first step in what will be a long and complex case, this decisions represents a significant win for the Rohingya community. It signals worldwide that states must fulfil their obligations to prevent genocide and protect all citizens who call that country their home.
Read the full order here: https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/178/178-20200123-ORD-01-00-EN.pdf