Gambia on Wednesday (23/2) filed an appeal to the UN’s highest court against Myanmar’s legal efforts to end the Southeast Asian country’s alleged genocide case against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
The Gambia took the case to the International Court of Justice in 2019, arguing that Myanmar’s junta violated the 1948 genocide convention during its 2017 crackdown on the Rohingya. The Gambia argues the crackdown amounted to genocide and that the world’s courts should hold Myanmar to account.
Myanmar’s military has launched what it calls a purge campaign in Rakhine state following attacks by Rohingya insurgent groups. Security forces are suspected of carrying out mass rapes and killings, and they set fire to thousands of homes as some 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to neighboring Bangladesh. A UN fact-finding mission concluded that “acts of genocide” were committed during the campaign.
Gambia’s lawyers urged the court to reject Myanmar’s challenge to the case two days after Myanmar’s junta demanded that the case be dropped. Myanmar’s junta argued that the West African country “represents no one” and has no legal basis to file the case because the case was actually brought by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and that the International Court of Justice can only hear cases between countries.
“This is a very big dispute between Gambia and Myanmar,” Gambia’s Attorney General and Justice Minister Dawda Jallow said in a rebuttal of the junta’s arguments.
Judges could take months to rule on Myanmar’s demands to drop the case.
The Myanmar legal team is led by Ko Ko Hlaing, minister for international cooperation. He replaced pro-democracy civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi after being ousted in a military coup last year. [my/jm]