An international human rights group on Friday urged the United Nations Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the full spectrum of atrocities in Rakhine State.
In a historic decision, the ICC on Thursday granted the prosecutor jurisdiction to investigate and possibly prosecute the crimes against humanity involving the deportation of Rohingya to Bangladesh as well as persecution and other inhumane acts.
“The court’s decision is monumental, but this is just a first step,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights. “This decision should inspire more international action, not less. An ICC referral from the Security Council now would enable the court to investigate the full spectrum of atrocities against Rohingya, Kachin, Shan, and others.”
The UN International Fact-Finding Mission reported last month that Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s commander in chief, and other senior military officers are responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.
The mission called for the situation to be referred to the ICC or to an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.
In July, Fortify Rights published a 160-page report exposing how the Myanmar authorities, notably the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) made extensive and systematic preparations for attacks against Rohingya.
The United States is currently the chair of the 15-member UN Security Council. Nine member states would need to vote in favour of a resolution to refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC. Any of the five permanent members – the US, the UK, China, Russia, and France – could veto such action.
Militant attacks prompting the Tatmadaw’s clearance operation killed thousands and forced more than 700,000 people from Rakhine to Bangladesh. Many of them suffered from atrocities including arson, torture, rape and massacre while fleeing from homes.