Our Voices

ICC Has Jurisdiction Over Crimes Against Rohingya

(September 6, 2018 | Washington, DC) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights welcomes the decision by Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) finding that the Court has jurisdiction to investigate certain Crimes Against Humanity committed against the Rohingya population of Myanmar. Although Myanmar is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, the ICC found that if an element of a crime takes place within the jurisdiction of a State Party, the ICC has jurisdiction over that crime. In this case, an element of the Crime Against Humanity of “deportation” is alleged to have taken place in Bangladesh, which is a State Party.

“This is an excellent and important decision by the ICC,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The crimes Myanmar officials committed against the Rohingya population are horrific and rise to the level of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes. With this ruling the ICC has jurisdiction over some of those crimes. It’s now up to the United Nations Security Council to refer the remaining crimes to the ICC so that there can be full justice for the victims and accountability for the perpetrators.”

According to the ICC’s ruling, in addition to the crime of “deportation,” the Prosecutor has jurisdiction to investigate and bring charges relating to the crime of “persecution” in connection to the crime of “deportation,” and the crime of “[o]ther inhumane acts…intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health” in connection with the crime of “deportation,” given the living conditions of those who were forced to flee to Bangladesh and cannot return.

There are a number of other crimes that fall with the framework of “Crimes Against Humanity” that the ICC does not have jurisdiction to investigate or charge because no element of the crime took place in Bangladesh. The same lack of jurisdiction applies to the crimes of “Genocide” and “War Crimes.” The United Nations Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar found that there is sufficient evidence to believe that Myanmar officials committed “Genocide,” “Crimes Against Humanity,” and “War Crimes,” and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights calls on members of the United Nations Security Council to make the referral of the case to the ICC.