The International Criminal Court (ICC) has approved a full investigation into Myanmar’s alleged crimes against the Rohingya, as the Southeast Asian nation faces mounting legal pressure worldwide over the treatment of the minority ethnic group.
ICC judges on Thursday backed a prosecution request to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity and persecution over Myanmar’s bloody 2017 military crackdown against the majority-Muslim group.
The ICC’s decision came after Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de-facto civilian leader, was named in an Argentine lawsuit over crimes against the Rohingya and Myanmar faced a separate genocide lawsuit at the United Nations’s top court.
More than 740,000 Rohingya were forced to flee over the border into sprawling camps in Bangladesh, in violence that the UN investigators said amounted to genocide.
The Hague-based ICC, set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes, said it had “authorised the prosecutor to proceed with an investigation for the alleged crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction” relating to Myanmar.
These include allegations of “systematic acts of violence”, deportation as a crime against humanity and persecution on the grounds of ethnicity or religion against the Rohingya, it said.
Welcoming the moves towards international justice, George Graham, Director of Children and Armed Conflict at Save the Children said there was an “overwhelming need” to investigate and prosecute the crimes that had been documented.
“The scale and intensity of violence committed against the Rohingya by Myanmar security forces demands an independent and impartial hearing in a court of law,” Graham said in a statement.