A Rohingya refugee rests after crossing from Myanmar into Bangladesh at Shah Porir Dwip Island near Teknaf in this Oct. 30, 2017 photo. More than 600,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh since a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar in August triggered an exodus. (Photo Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP)
The United Nations Security Council should refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) because of its failure to investigate mass atrocities against ethnic Rohingya, Human Rights Watch said Nov. 3. UN member countries should also pursue processes for gathering criminal evidence to advance prosecutions at the I.C.C. and other courts, the New York-based group said. Myanmar authorities have failed to credibly investigate military operations since late August that have resulted in mass arson, killing, rape, and looting, destroying hundreds of villages and forcing more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh, the rights group said in a statement. These abuses amounted to crimes against humanity, it said. "Justice is desperately needed for the Rohingya population targeted by the Burmese military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing," said Param-Preet Singh, the group’s associate international justice director. "The U.N. Security Council should refer the situation in Burma [Myanmar] to the I.C.C., which was created precisely to address situations in which grave crimes were committed without consequences." The I.C.C. is a court of last resort and only acts when there are grave crimes and national authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute and try those responsible. But the I.C.C. only has jurisdiction over crimes committed by states parties to its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and Burma is not a member. Only the U.N. Security Council can refer the situation to the I.C.C. for further criminal investigation. "U.N. member countries should explore concrete measures to build criminal files against those responsible for major crimes in Burma for eventual prosecution," Singh said. "Identifying perpetrators can help raise the political cost of abusive military operations, and bring victims closer to the justice they deserve."
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