On Friday 22nd July the International Court of Justice, known as the World Court, has ruled that a case on whether or not genocide was committed against the Rohingya will now proceed. The case has been delayed for a year and a half following objections by Aung San Suu Kyi’s government. Those objections have now been rejected.
Despite calls for the British government to join the case, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss refuses to do so.
When the Burmese military launched their military offensive against the Rohingya in 2017, their main target was children. Children were shot, raped, beaten to death, drowned and burned alive. More than half the 800,000 Rohingya who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh were children.
UN investigators concluded the Burmese military had committed genocide. But it was Gambia, not the British government, which brought the genocide case at the International Court of Justice.
Canada and Netherlands have said they’ll join Gambia in the case. Even Bangladesh, with high levels of poverty, donated $500 million towards Gambia’s legal costs.
There is cross party support for the UK to join, Rohingya organisations have called on the British government to join the case, and the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament called on the British government to join the case.
Despite all this, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss still refuses to announce that the British government will intervene in the case.
The military have enjoyed impunity for decades, encouraging more violations of international law and the attempted military coup which began last year. Now, finally, an international court is hearing evidence of their crimes. But the British government is refusing to take part, despite claiming to support justice and accountability for the Rohingya.
“Now that the case is to proceed, there are no more excuses for the British government to hide behind for not joining the case,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Liz Truss must now show that the British government is serious about justice for the Rohingya and turn words into action by announcing that the British government will be joining the case.”