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ICC opens probe into Rohingya’s case after Gambia’s petition

The International Criminal Court has ordered investigation into alleged crimes against the Rohingya by Myanmar, as it faces mounting global legal pressure over its treatment…

The International Criminal Court has ordered investigation into alleged crimes against the Rohingya by Myanmar, as it faces mounting global legal pressure over its treatment of the minority ethnic group.

The Hague-based court on Thursday approved a full probe into Myanmar’s bloody 2017 military crackdown against the mostly-Muslim group – a move welcomed by the rights groups, Al Jazeera reports.

The probe followed a petition last Monday by The Gambia, a West African country, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s top court, also based in The Hague.

The Gambia, acting on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), accused Myanmar of genocide. The first hearings are scheduled for December.

The ICJ normally deals with more legalistic disputes between states but also rules on alleged breaches of UN conventions.

A brutal army campaign in August 2017 forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee Myanmar’s Rakhine State, most seeking refuge in overcrowded camps across the border in Bangladesh.

During its crackdown, which was launched in response to attacks by an armed group, the military allegedly carried out mass killings and gang rapes with “genocidal intent”, according to the United Nations-mandated investigators.

Myanmar has repeatedly defended the crackdown as necessary to stamp out fighters and has long refused to recognise the authority of the ICC – a position it reiterated on Friday.

Though the country has not signed up to the court, the ICC ruled last year it has jurisdiction over crimes against the Rohingya because Bangladesh, where they are now refugees, is a member.

Gambia said it was motivated to file the case because of its immediate past experience of abuses under former President Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the country for 22 years before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea in 2017. The country has now set up its Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission to look into alleged human rights abuses by Jammeh.

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