BURMA (Myanmar) on Thursday brushed aside the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) request to exercise jurisdiction over the government’s alleged expulsion of minority Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh as “meritless”.
Calling for the proposal to be dismissed, the office of Burmese leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi reiterated that the ICC had “no jurisdiction over Myanmar whatsoever”.
In response to a court judge’s request by July 27, the office issued a 21-point statement to outline why it would not engage with the court on the matter.
“The request by the prosecutor may be interpreted as an indirect attempt to acquire jurisdiction over Myanmar which is not a State Party to the Rome Statute,” the office said in a statement.
“Myanmar categorically rejects the proposition that the court has jurisdiction as proposed by the prosecutor in the request,” it said.
“Myanmar also disagrees with the prosecutor’s assertion that population displacement across a national boundary is an essential objective element of the crime of deportation…”
The ICC had asked Burma to submit a written response to prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request for a jurisdiction ruling on what she called the “alleged deportation” of the Rohingyans, Radio Free Asia reported.
More than 700,000 stateless Rohingyans fled the Burmese state of Rakhine after a security crackdown that began Aug 25, 2017, according to UN estimates.
Human rights groups have accused the Burmese security forces of committing atrocities and rape against Rohingyans, along with causing the destruction of their homes.
The groups have also called for the prosecution of several officials who allegedly masterminded the “genocidal” operations.
The government has repeatedly denied the claims, insisting that it launched a counter-offensive against an insurgency by militants from the Rohingya community.
The jurisdiction of the ICC court is limited to crimes committed in member states or crimes referred to it by the UN Security Council. However, Bensouda had earlier asked the court to seek the views of Bangladesh, an ICC member who she said was “affected by the events concerning the alleged deportation of Rohingya people from Myanmar.”
In dismissing Bensouda’s move, the Burmese government insists it had signed a repatriation agreement with Bangladesh in Nov 2017, whereby “both countries agreed on a short time frame for the voluntary return of all those who had left Rakhine State as a result of hostilities in the region.”