ICC prosecutor seeks to open Rohingya deportations probe

This photograph taken on March 10, 2018, Rohingya children are seen at Shan Taung village in the outskirt of Mrauk U township located in Rakhine State close to Bangladesh border. (AFP)
Updated 10 April 2018

ICC prosecutor seeks to open Rohingya deportations probe

THE HAGUE: The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has asked judges to rule whether she can open a probe into the mass deportations of the Rohingya people from Myanmar.
Hundreds of thousands of the stateless Muslim minority have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in recent months to escape a bloody military crackdown.
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 late Monday, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda contended that “consistent and credible reports ... indicate that since August 2017 more than 670,000 Rohingya, lawfully present in Myanmar, have been intentionally deported across the international border into Bangladesh.”
She asked judges to rule “whether the court may exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportation.”
Opening a preliminary probe into the Rohingya’s plight is legally complicated for the tribunal as Myanmar is not a member of the ICC. Bangladesh is, however.
“This is not an abstract question, but a concrete one,” Bensouda said in her filing to judges late Monday.
Set up in 2002 in The Hague, the ICC is the world’s only permanent war crimes court and acts to prosecute the worst abuses including genocide in places where national tribunals are unwilling or unable to act.
Bensouda argued her office did have authority to investigate the situation, saying such a move “would be consistent with the legal framework” of the Rome Statute, which underpins the court’s work as well as “well-established principles of criminal jurisdiction.”
She 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).”
Bensouda asked the tribunal to set up a special chamber to examine and rule on her request, urging that it be dealt with in an “expeditious” manner.
The Myanmar army in the mainly Buddhist nation has denied any allegations, saying its campaign has been a legitimate response to Rohingya militant attacks on August 25 last year that killed about a dozen border guard police.
Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a repatriation deal in November but not one refugee has returned so far.


Thunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos

Updated 58 min 21 sec ago

Thunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos

  • Business leaders are likely to be concerned by the state of the global economy
  • The IMF cut its global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent

DAVOS: Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday slammed the business elite for doing “basically nothing” on climate change, as the Davos forum braced for an address from US President Donald Trump hours before his impeachment trial begins.

The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss Alps resort got under way seeking to thrash out dangers to both the environment and economy from the heating of the planet.

Trump, who has repeatedly expressed skepticism about climate change, is set to give the first keynote address of Davos 2020, on the same day as his impeachment trial opens at the Senate in Washington.

Before his appearance, Thunberg underlined the message that has inspired millions around the world, saying “basically nothing has been done” to fight climate change.

“It will require much more than this. This is just the very beginning,” the 17-year-old said.

Speaking calmly and with a wry smile, Thunberg acknowledged that her campaign which began with school strikes had attracted huge attention without yet achieving concrete change.

“There is a difference between being heard to actually leading to something,” she said.

“I am not the person who should complain about not being heard,” she said to appreciative laughter.

“I am being heard all the time. But the science and the voice of the young people are not at the center of the conversation.”

While the WEF and individual business leaders have been detailing their own concerns about climate change, Greenpeace complained in a new report that some of the world’s biggest banks, insurers and pension funds have collectively invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2016.

“Pretty much nothing has been done as global Co2 emissions have not been reduced. And that is of course what we are trying to achieve,” said Thunberg.

There are no expectations that Trump and Thunberg, who have exchanged barbs through Twitter, will actually meet, but the crowded venue and intense schedule mean a chance encounter cannot be ruled out.

When Trump and his entourage walked through UN headquarters last year at the annual General Assembly, a photo of the teenager staring in apparent fury at the president from the sidelines went viral.

Tweeting before arriving in Davos aboard his Marine One helicopter, Trump appeared in bullish mood, writing he would “bring Good Policy and additional Hundreds of Billions of Dollars back to the United States of America!”

Although Trump’s Republican party holds a majority in the Senate and is almost sure to acquit him on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, the impeachment adds volatility to an already tense 2020 presidential election.

Sustainability is the buzzword at the Davos forum, which began in 1971, with heel crampons handed out to participants to encourage them to walk on the icy streets rather than use cars, and the signage paint made out of seaweed.

Trump’s opposition to renewable energy, his withdrawal from the Paris accord negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, and the free hand extended to the fossil fuel industry puts him at odds with this year’s thrust of the event.

“People are playing a lot more attention to” climate, Eurasia Group president Ian Bremner told AFP at Davos, adding there was “genuine action by some big players,” after investment titan BlackRock said it was partially divesting out of coal.

“But let’s be clear — a big part of this is because we failed for a very long time and governments continue to fail,” he added.

Business leaders are likely also to be concerned by the state of the global economy whose prospects, according to the International Monetary Fund, have improved but remain brittle.

The IMF cut its global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent, saying that a recent truce in the trade war between China and the US had brought some stability but that risks remained.

“We are already seeing some tentative signs of stabilization but we have not reached a turning point yet,” said IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.

Activists meanwhile will be pressing for much more concrete action to fight inequality, after Oxfam issued a report outlining how the number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world’s 22 richest men now have more wealth than all the women in Africa.