Myanmar says ICC lacks jurisdiction to probe Rohingya crisis

Some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh following insurgent attacks on border guard posts in August last year. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2018
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Myanmar says ICC lacks jurisdiction to probe Rohingya crisis

YANGON: Myanmar has expressed “serious concern” over an attempt at the International Criminal Court to open a probe into mass deportations of Rohingya Muslims, dismissing the claims and saying the court has no jurisdiction.
Some 700,000 people from the stateless Muslim minority fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh following Rohingya insurgent attacks on border guard posts in August last year.
Myanmar says it was defending itself from the rebel Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army but harrowing testimony from refugees in Bangladesh of rape, extrajudicial killing and arson has prompted accusations of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
On Monday, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in The Hague asked judges to rule whether the body has jurisdiction to open a probe into the more than 670,000 Rohingya who have been “intentionally deported across the international border into Bangladesh.”
Myanmar responded on Friday in a statement from the ministry that oversees civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s state counsellor office.
The statement highlights the legal thorniness around the possible probe by arguing that Myanmar is not a party to the Rome statute that countries must sign on to as ICC member states.
“Nowhere in the ICC Charter does it say that the Court has jurisdiction over States which have not accepted that jurisdiction,” Myanmar’s statement says.
Bangladesh is a member, however, and chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in her filing that her office does have the authority to investigate.
She contends the crime of deportation is like a cross-border shooting and “not completed until the bullet (fired in one state) strikes and kills the victim (standing in another state).”
A pre-trial chamber of judges is currently reviewing her request but no decision has been made.
Myanmar’s government said the prosecutor is attempting to override its sovereignty and rejected the claims in the filing.
“Myanmar reiterates that it has not deported any individuals in the areas of concern and in fact has worked hard in collaboration with Bangladesh to repatriate those displaced from their homes,” the statement said.
The two countries have agreed to start repatriating Rohingya refugees but so far not one has returned.
Set up in 2002, the ICC is the only permanent war crimes court and acts to prosecute abuses including genocide in countries where national courts are unwilling or unable to act.


UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

Updated 4 min 57 sec ago
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UK PM Theresa May to ask lawmakers to vote on a second Brexit referendum

  • May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure British departure
  • May said she was 'making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament'

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said her government will include in her Withdrawal Agreement Bill a requirement for lawmakers to vote on whether to hold another Brexit referendum.

“I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue,” May said. "The government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum."

“So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal - you need a deal and therefore Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen,” May said.

May is offering concessions in what she says is a “last chance” to secure an orderly British departure from the bloc.

The deal that she struck with the EU has been rejected by UK lawmakers three times already.

Since then, she has tried to secure backing from lawmakers with promises to maintain high standards on workers' rights and environmental protections — issues that are priorities for the left-of-center opposition Labour Party.

She also said UK lawmakers would get to decide how close a trade relationship to seek with the EU after Brexit, in a concession to Labour's demands for a customs union.

May said she was “making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.”

“I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too,” she said.

May has said that after Parliament votes on the bill she will set out a timetable for her departure as Conservative leader and prime minister. Pro-Brexit Conservatives blame May for the country's political deadlock and want to replace her with a staunch Brexit supporter such as Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary.

(With agencies)