Burma Campaign UK today called on Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to join the Rohingya genocide case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
With the government and military in Burma so far ignoring provisional measures ordered by the Court, the UK joining the case and making an intervention will send an important political message as well as bringing significant extra legal expertise to the case.
The Gambia brought forward charges of genocide of the Rohingya to the ICJ under provisions of the Genocide Convention. The first hearings on provisional measures were held in December 2019. And the Court imposed provisional measures on Burma in January 2020. The government and military in Burma have so far failed to implement these provisional measures.
The Maldives, Canada and The Netherlands have expressed an intention to intervene in the case.
To date the British government has expressed support for the case, but not joined it or provided any practical support. For almost a year now the line from the Foreign Office has been that it is “considering” whether to intervene and join the case.
“The UK is penholder on Burma at the UN Security Council, giving it a key leadership role, but instead of leading, the UK is dithering and leaving it to The Gambia to do all the heavy lifting,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “With Russia and China blocking movement at the UN Security Council, the ICJ is where effective action can be taken to end impunity and protect the Rohingya, but where is the UK?”
The UK is the founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), another leadership role which gives it an additional responsibility, as well as expertise. The mass use of sexual violence against the Rohingya in the military offensives of 2016 and 2017 are well documented. The British government is supposed to be committed to ending impunity for such crimes.
Burma Campaign UK is asking supporters to write to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab calling on him to support joining the ICJ case. Since he became Foreign Secretary, the only action Dominic Raab has taken against the Burmese military in response to genocide of the Rohingya has been to ban Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military, and his deputy Soe Win, from taking holidays in the UK.