The Gambia, a predominantly Muslim African country, filed the case with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the Netherlands, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a group of 57 Muslim countries.
The lawsuit alleges that Myanmar breached the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, with the military-led crackdown targeting the Rohingya minority.
It also asks the ICJ to order Myanmar to cease and desist from all acts of genocide, to punish those responsible, including senior government officials and military officers, and to issue reparations to victims, according to a statement issued by Foley Hoag LLC, the international law firm assisting The Gambia with the case.
The court is expected to hold oral hearings on the request in December, it said.
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told the state-run news service BSS that officials welcomed the news.
“This is good news that OIC is taking some responsibility,” he said.
Human rights groups said they were pleased by the latest action to hold Myanmar accountable for violations against the Rohingya.
“We Rohingya welcome Gambia’s lawsuit against Myanmar,” said Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).
“I think this lawsuit will be very effective since Myanmar is one of the signatories of the Genocide Convention.”
“Government-to-government lawsuits are more likely to proceed because only that kind of action will save the Rohingya from genocide,” he said. “Otherwise, it will keep going on for many years to come. We don’t know how long these atrocities will keep happening in the future since it is part of government policy.”
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) also welcomed the move, saying it could help stop further abuses of the Rohingya.
“The Gambia’s legal action triggers a judicial process before the world’s highest court that could determine that Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya violate the Genocide Convention,” said Param-Preet Singh, HRW’s associate international justice director. “The court’s prompt adoption of provisional measures could help stop the worst ongoing abuses against the Rohingya in Myanmar.”
Darul Ihsan Media Desk