19 September 2018 – On Monday, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it will open a preliminary examination concerning the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. This examination is the first step towards a proper investigation, which will take place if the examination shows reasonable basis to proceed accordingly.
The question of the Court’s jurisdiction on the Rohingya situation was the subject of a debate, as while Bangladesh is a State Party to the ICC, Myanmar is not. Given the cross-border nature of the crime of deportation, the Court was confronted to a new jurisdictional dilemma. For the very first time, the Prosecutor thus made use of Article 19(3) of the Rome Statute to seek a ruling on jurisdiction, and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), along with other expert organizations, was invited to present Amici Curiae observations to the Court on that matter. On September 6, the ICC rendered a judgement in line with CPIJ’s observations: it ruled that the court has jurisdiction “over the crime the Court has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people” because “an element of this crime (the crossing of the border) took place on the territory of a State party to the Statute.
The Partnership warmly welcomes this decision from the ICC Prosecutor to move forward with a preliminary examination, which constitutes an important step forward the realization of a justice for the Rohingya. In addition, PCJI also considers that Canada can and should play an important role in the achievement of this justice, as explained in an op-ed published on Monday co-authored by Amanda Ghahremani, Mark Kersten and Fannie Lafontaine.