War crimes judges to hold closed talks on Rohingya crisis

War crimes judges to hold closed talks on Rohingya crisis
In this file photo taken on September 17, 2017 Rohingya refugees cross floodwater in Thyangkhali refugee camp near the Bangladeshi town of Ukhia. (AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET)
Updated 15 May 2018

War crimes judges to hold closed talks on Rohingya crisis

War crimes judges to hold closed talks on Rohingya crisis
  • Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will appear before the three judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) hearing on June 20
  • The ICC acts to prosecute the worst abuses including genocide in places where national tribunals are unwilling or unable to act.

THE HAGUE: War crimes judges will hold closed-door talks next month to discuss whether to allow the launch of a probe into the forced exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar.

Only Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will appear before the three judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) hearing on June 20, presiding judge Peter Kovacs said in his Friday order, seen by AFP on Monday.

Some 700,000 people from the stateless Muslim minority have fled Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state into neighboring Bangladesh since August 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 last month, Bensouda asked judges at the world’s only permanent war crimes court 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 that underpins the ICC.

Bangladesh is, however, and Bensouda argued that should give her office jurisdiction to investigate,  “The chamber convenes a status conference on June 20 to be held in closed session, only in the presence of the prosecutor,” Kovacs ordered.

He accompanied the order with a confidential annex which he said contained issues which Bensouda must address at the June hearing.

Set up in 2002 in The Hague, the ICC acts to prosecute the worst abuses including genocide in places where national tribunals are unwilling or unable to act.

The Myanmar army in the mainly Buddhist nation has denied any allegations, saying its campaign has been a legitimate response to Rohingya militant attacks last year that killed about a dozen border guard police.

The Southeast Asian nation has voiced “serious concern” over the move at the ICC.

“Nowhere in the ICC Charter does it say that the court has jurisdiction over states which have not accepted that jurisdiction,” Myanmar said in a statement.

The special court examining Bensouda’s request has also asked Bangladesh to submit any written observations it may have on the case by June 11.


Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
Updated 23 January 2021

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
  • The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia
  • Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed”

MOSCOW: Russian police detained dozens of protesters on Saturday as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets following his call to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
Putin’s most vocal domestic critic called for mass rallies after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent and returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany. He was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport and jailed.
The rallies — planned for dozens of cities across Russia — are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilize despite the increasing Kremlin pressure on critics and the coronavirus pandemic.
The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Chita where several thousand took to the streets, Navalny supporters said.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at opposition rallies, said around 50 people were detained in 10 cities.
Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed.”
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest rallies, protesters plan to meet in the central Pushkin Square at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) and then march toward the Kremlin.

On the eve of the rallies, Navalny, who is being held in Moscow’s high-security Matrosskaya Tishina jail, thanked his supporters.
“I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come,” he said on Friday.
Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share,” she said on Instagram.
Ahead of the demonstrations several key Navalny aides were taken into police custody for violating protest laws and handed short jail sentences to keep them away from the rallies.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Friday it launched a criminal probe into the calls for unauthorized protests.
A hastily organized court on Monday jailed Navalny for 30 days, and his supporters fear that authorities are preparing to sentence him to a long prison term to silence him.
Navalny’s team this week released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.
The “Putin’s palace” report alleges the Russian leader owns a 17,691 square meter mansion that sits on a property 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino along with a theater and a hookah lounge complete with a pole-dancing stage.
The two-hour video report had been viewed more than 65 million times since Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.
The Kremlin has denied the property belongs to Putin.
Many Russians took to social media — including video sharing app TikTok hugely popular with teens — to voice support and urge a large turnout on Saturday.
A hashtag demanding freedom for Navalny was trending on TikTok as Russians flooded the Chinese app with thousands of videos.
Russia’s media watchdog warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies or risk hefty fines.
The watchdog said on Friday that media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, removed content at its request.
Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte blocked groups created to coordinate the protests in different cities.
But a number of public figures — including those who usually steer clear of politics — have spoken out in Navalny’s support.
Navalny, 44, rose to prominence a decade ago and has become the central figure of Russia’s opposition movement, leading large-scale street protests against corruption and electoral fraud.
His arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.