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Myanmar ordered by ICJ to prevent genocide against the Rohingya

THE United Nations’s top court today ordered Myanmar to take every measure to prevent genocide against the Rohingya people.

The decision, supported even by a temporary judge appointed by Myanmar to be part of the 17-judge panel, is a sweeping legal victory for members of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

International Court of Justice (ICT) president Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said that the court “is of the opinion that the Rohingya in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable.”

In a unanimous decision, the court said that its order — for what it calls provisional measures intended to protect the Rohingya — is binding “and creates international legal obligations” on Myanmar.

Yasmin Ullah, a Rohingya activist who lives in Vancouver and was in court to hear the decision, branded it a historic ruling.

“Today, having the judges unanimously agree to the protection of Rohingya means so much to us because we’re now allowed to exist and it’s legally binding,” she said outside the court.

Judges also ordered Myanmar to report to them in four months on what measures the country has taken to comply with the order. It is then asked to report every six months as the case moves slowly through the world court.

Rohingya refugees living in camps in Bangladesh cautiously welcomed the order.

Abdul Jalil, a 39-year-old refugee from Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, said that the ruling was “good news” and that it “proves that Myanmar has become a nation of torturers.”

But he expressed doubts that Myanmar would fully comply.

“Myanmar has become a notorious state,” he said. “We do not have confidence in it. There is little chance that Myanmar will listen.”

Human Rights Watch associate international justice director Param-Preet Singh said: “The ICJ order to Myanmar to take concrete steps to prevent the genocide of the Rohingya is a landmark step to stop further atrocities against one of the world’s most persecuted peoples.

“Concerned governments and UN bodies should now weigh in to ensure that the order is enforced as the genocide case moves forward.”

The order results from a case brought by Gambia, on behalf of an organisation of Muslim nations, which accuses Myanmar of genocide in its crackdown on the Rohingya.

Judges did not rule today on the substance of the case, which is likely to be debated in legal arguments for years.

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