Judges rule ICC has jurisdiction over Rohingya deportations

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In this file photo, a Rohingya refugee carries an old man in an area near no man’s land on the Bangladesh side of the border with Myanmar after crossing the Naf River. (AFP)
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In this file photo, a Bangladeshi man helps Rohingya Muslim refugees to disembark from a boat on the Bangladeshi shoreline of the Naf river after crossing the border from Myanmar in Teknaf. (AFP)
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In this file photo, a Rohingya refugee woman walks with a child in her lap in Balukhali refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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Judges rule ICC has jurisdiction over Rohingya deportations

THE HAGUE: The International Criminal Court said Thursday it had jurisdiction to probe the forced deportation of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s military as a possible crime against humanity.
Some 700,000 people from the stateless Muslim minority have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state into neighboring Bangladesh since August last year to escape a bloody military crackdown.
The ICC’s “pre-trial chamber... decided by majority the court may exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportations of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh,” the Hague-based tribunal said in a statement.
The Myanmar government on Thursday declined to comment on the announcement when contacted by AFP.
The move comes days after UN investigators called for an international investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s army chief and five other top military commanders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Rohingya.
The violence has left a trail of torched villages in its wake, amid allegations of murder and rape at the hands of troops and vigilantes.
In an unprecedented move in April, the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked judges to rule whether she can investigate the deportations as a crime against humanity.
It is a legally complicated request, as Myanmar is not a signatory and member of the Rome Statute which underpins the ICC.
The Southeast Asian nation voiced “serious concern” over the prosecutor’s move, saying that the ICC’s charter in fact did not state that it had jurisdiction to investigate a country that had not signed up to the Rome Statute that governs the court.
Bangladesh, however, is a signatory and the judges said that because the deportations involve a cross-border crime, that gives the court jurisdiction to investigate the plight of the Rohingya.
Bensouda had likened deportation to “a cross-border shooting,” arguing the crime “is not completed until the bullet (fired in one state) strikes and kills the victim (standing in another state).”


Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

Updated 21 May 2019
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Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

  • Madrasas to be absorbed by Ministry of Education in wake of Easter Sunday attacks
  • More than 100 arrests have been made following the rioting. A curfew has been lifted and life is returning to normal

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday refused permission for a planned $10 million (SR37.5 million) Shariah university in one of the country’s main cities.

And in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks on hotels and churches, the premier also announced that all madrasas would be brought under the umbrella of Sri Lanka’s Education Ministry.

The latest moves by the Sri Lankan government follow widespread unrest on the island, with anti-Muslim riots having caused damage running into millions of dollars.

Wickremesinghe’s orders came after a fact-finding report into the university compiled by MP Ashu Marasinghe. He recommended that the institution, being constructed at Batticaloa, in the Eastern Province, should be privately operated and titled Batticaloa Technology University. The new education complex is located close to the township of Kattankudy where suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, Zahran Hashim, lived and preached his messages of hate and violence.

The Sri Lankan government analyst’s department said on Tuesday that DNA tests proved Hashim died in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

President’s Counsel, Ali Sabry, a prominent lawyer and political analyst, told Arab News on Tuesday that the premier’s announcement was welcome.

“We don’t need a Shariah university at this juncture when there is a lot of suspicions on various Islamic topics that need to be clarified by Islamic theologians following the suicide attacks by Muslim extremists,” Sabry said. He stressed that the country’s main focus should be on strengthening ways to ensure peaceful coexistence among all communities.

The Sri Lankan University Grants Commission had a set of guidelines to license new universities, and Wickremesinghe’s latest recommendations would also be included among the requirements for a new university, Sabry added.

The prime minister’s ruling on madrasas (Islamic seminaries) would provide more transparency on the activities of the institutions, he said. “Their curriculum and their co-curricular activities should maintain a common standard and these madrasas should prepare the students to make them fit into society instead of just learning Arabic and Islam only.”

M.R.M. Malik, director of the Muslim Affairs Ministry in Colombo, told Arab News that currently all madrasas function under his ministry. “There are 317 madrasas throughout the island with an estimated 25,000 students. In addition to the local teachers, there are 38 Arabic teachers and 85 foreign students,” he said.

Most of the teachers are from Egypt, Pakistan and India, while many of the overseas students studying at the madrasas are from Libya, Pakistan, Jordan and India.

Sri Lanka Muslim Council President N.M. Ameen told Arab News that the local community had never wanted a Shariah university. However, he said the proposed curriculum for the madrasas should be constructed in consultation with Islamic scholars and the Muslim community.

Meanwhile, Western Province Gov. Azath Salley, revealed that damage caused by anti-Muslim riots had reached nearly Rs900 million (SR19.2 million). The governor was speaking to Arab News following a visit to some of the worst-affected villages on the island.

“Speaking to the families of the vandalized properties, it’s clear that an organized gang had attacked these earmarked properties owned by Muslims,” said Salley. “One child, whose father was killed in his presence, is still in a state of utter shock and dismay.” He added that turpentine oil had been poured on the face of the dead carpenter by his killers and set on fire.

The governor urged the authorities to bring the attackers to justice. He added that the government would provide compensation to victims of wrecked properties.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasakera said that more than 100 arrests had been made following the rioting, and that a curfew had been lifted and life was returning to normal.