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ICJ agrees with the Gambia against Myanmar

Jan 27, 2020, 2:24 PM

Following a controversial and contentious case brought to the attention of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague by The Gambia, ‘‘provisional measures’’ against Myanmar for its violent crackdown against its Rohingya Muslim minority has finally been granted.

In its unanimous decision to cease the violence that was welcomed by The Gambian legal team led by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou, the ICJ further ‘‘preserve any evidence of its past crime’’.

During the proceedings, Banjul alleged that the treatment against the Muslim minority group violated the 1948 Genocide Convention and demanded an immediate end to it.

However, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar, accused The Gambia for bringing an ‘‘incomplete and misleading’’ case against her government and voiced out several discrepancies over the matter.

But now it seems that the ICJ has somehow agreed with The Gambia by consistently declaring that there was ‘‘prima facie evidence’’ of breaches of the Convention.

Furthermore, the revelations of alleged systematic abuses including alleged war crimes were so overwhelming that even the judge nominated by Myanmar for the hearing reported voted against the country.

Philippe Sands QC, counsel for the Gambia, also argued that Myanmar has breached the Genocide Convention, which was enacted after the Holocaust.

Meanwhile, amongst others the provisional measures require the Myanmar government to ‘‘prevent genocidal acts…ensure military and police forces do not commit genocide…preserve evidence of genocidal acts and report back on its compliance within four months’’.

Even though the defendant disagreed, the ICJ further warned that hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, who are still ‘‘remaining in Myanmar were extremely vulnerable to attacks by the military’’.

Subsequent investigations from both within the Court and outside including experts and other independent witnesses, also compelled the Court to immediately ‘‘prevent genocidal violence’’ against the Rohingya. 

Consequently, Aung San Suu Kyi and her government officials are instructed to ‘‘respect the requirements of the 1948 Genocide Convention’’.     

Suu Kyi, who is also a Noble Peace Prize laureate had noted eloquently that the conflict in the ‘‘Western Rakhine State was complex and not easy to fathom.’’

Human rights groups across Europe hailed the orders by the ICJ and vowed to continue its campaign against repression and are also pleased with Banjul’s initiatives.

However campaigners equally demanded that ‘’human rights abusers in The Gambia during Yahya Jammeh’s regime who committed unbelievable atrocities must be apprehended without further delay and prosecuted because justice begins at home’’.

Whatever the case, it is important to note that the ICJ’s orders are binding. It also form a legal obligation that must be respected and enforced. It will be sent to the UN Security Council.

Author: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s Europe Correspondent