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Saturday, 7 December 2019

Questions and Answers on Gambia’s Genocide Case Against Myanmar before the ICJ

Source HRW, 5 Dec

Abdul Kareem, a Rohingya Muslim, carries his mother, Alima Khatoon, to a refugee camp after crossing from Burma into Bangladesh on Sept. 16, 2017.

 
© 2017 Dar Yasin/AP

Why has Gambia filed a case against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice?

Why is this case important?

Will Myanmar respond to Gambia's ICJ case?

How could the ICJ enforce a provisional measures order?

What has Gambia alleged in its complaint against Myanmar?

What relief can the ICJ provide to victims if it rules in favor of Gambia?

Who are the ICJ's judges?

Has the ICJ ruled on other genocide cases?

Are there efforts to bring individual perpetrators in Myanmar to justice?

What are the prospects for justice in Myanmar?

1.Why has Gambia filed a case against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice?

Myanmar's military, known as the Tatmadaw, has committed extensive atrocities against ethnic Rohingya Muslims, including murder, rape, and arson. These abuses reached their peak during the Tatmadaw's brutal ethnic cleansing campaign, beginning in August 2017, that forced more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. These crimes have been thoroughly documented by the United Nations, the media, and human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.

Gambia – with the backing of the 57 members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – has filed a case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging that Myanmar's atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine State violate various provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide ("the Genocide Convention"). Gambia, which ratified the convention in 1978, brought the case under article 9 of the convention, which allows for disputes between parties "relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide" and related acts to be submitted to the ICJ by any party. The ICJ previously confirmed that all member states of the convention have a duty to prevent and to punish genocide. Myanmar has been a party to the Genocide Convention since 1956.

The case before the ICJ is not a criminal case against individual alleged perpetrators and it does not involve the International Criminal Court (ICC), a separate body (see below). Rather, the case is "state-to-state" litigation between UN member states governed by legal provisions in the UN Charter, the ICJ Statute, and the Genocide Convention.

Gambia's filing marks the first time that a country without any direct connection to the alleged crimes has used its membership in the Genocide Convention to bring a case before the ICJ. Gambia has only recently emerged from the repressive 22-year rule of Yahyah Jammeh and its own difficult history of human rights violations. After filing the case, Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said that "the aim is to get Myanmar to account for its action against its own people: the Rohingya."

2.Why is this case important?

The Tatmadaw's well-documented crimes against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups in Myanmar span decades, but until Gambia brought a case before the ICJ, the government's atrocities had largely been beyond the reach of justice.

While the case may take many years to reach a final ruling, Gambia has asked the court for an order for provisional measures "to protect the rights of the Rohingya group and those of The Gambia under the Genocide Convention, and to prevent the aggravation or extension of the dispute pending the final judgment of the Court." The hearing on provisional measures will take place on December 10-12, 2019 in The Hague, Netherlands.

Among the provisional measures that Gambia has requested the court to order "as a matter of extreme urgency" are that Myanmar should immediately take all measures to prevent all genocidal acts; Myanmar should ensure that the military does not commit any genocidal acts; and Myanmar should not destroy or render inaccessible any events related to the underlying application.

The timeline for a decision on the provisional measures can be relatively quick. Bosnia and Herzegovina asked for provisional measures when filing its Genocide Convention case against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on March 20, 1993. In that case the ICJ issued an order several weeks later, on April 8, 1993.

3.Will Myanmar respond to Gambia's ICJ case?

Myanmar announced that State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity as foreign affairs minister, will lead its delegation to the ICJ to "defend the national interests of Myanmar." In doing so, she reportedly enjoys the support of her political party, the National League for Democracy, and the Myanmar parliament. The military has said it "will fully cooperate with the government" and follow its instructions. The government explicitly noted that all members of the UN, including Myanmar, are bound by the ICJ Statute.

While public support in Myanmar for Aung San Suu Kyi's decision to represent the country before the ICJ is reportedly high, those who might want to criticize her or the government would do so at considerable risk. Myanmar authorities have frequently arrested and prosecuted people speaking or writing critically of the government, military, and officials.

Still, some representatives of ethnic groups both inside and outside the country have issued statements backing the ICJ proceedings, noting similarities in the Tatmadaw's brutal tactics against the Rohingya and other minority communities.

4.How could the ICJ enforce a provisional measures order?

The ICJ's provisional measures orders are legally binding on the parties. Myanmar's explicit recognition of the ICJ's authority should dispense with any legal question as to whether the government needs to comply with the court's orders and decisions. Gambia has also asked the court to require Myanmar and Gambia to provide the court with a report on steps taken to implement a provisional measures order "no later than four months from its issuance."

Other UN bodies could take steps to increase the power of the ICJ's order and, by extension, increase the political cost should Myanmar fail to comply.

Under article 41(2) of the ICJ Statute, the court's provisional measures orders are automatically sent to the UN Security Council. Such an order would increase pressure on the council to take concrete action in Myanmar, including through a binding resolution to address some of the indicators of genocidal intent outlined in the comprehensive 2018 report of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar ("Fact Finding Mission").

For example, the Security Council could pass a resolution directing Myanmar to lift restrictions on Rohingya's freedom of movement, eliminate unnecessary restrictions on humanitarian access to Rakhine State, repeal discriminatory laws, and ban practices that limit Rohingya access to education, health care, and livelihoods. Thus far, the Security Council has been deadlocked on Myanmar, in part because of China's support for Myanmar's leadership and its veto power.

The UN General Assembly can also reinforce the weight of an ICJ order on Myanmar by passing a resolution urging the government to comply with its terms.

5.What has Gambia alleged in its complaint against Myanmar?

Establishing that genocide has taken place under the Genocide Convention requires demonstrating genocidal intent and genocidal acts, meaning the state had the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group in whole or in part.

In 2018, the Fact-Finding Mission presented a comprehensive analysis of the Rohingya's status as a protected group, genocidal acts, and indicators of genocidal intent and concluded that "the actions of those who orchestrated the attacks on the Rohingya read as a veritable check-list" on how to destroy the target group in whole or in part. The Fact-Finding Mission further concluded in 2019 that "the State of Myanmar breached its obligation not to commit genocide under the Genocide Convention."

Gambia's application identifies two elements of Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingya as "particularly indicative of genocidal intent": its systematic denial of legal rights to Rohingya, notably restrictions on their ability to marry and bear children and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, including detention camps, and its support for, and participation in, pervasive hate campaigns aimed at demonizing and dehumanizing the group.

As for the genocidal acts, the application points to incidents from the October 2016 and August 2017 "clearance operations" including mass executions of Rohingya men, women, and children; the systematic burning of Rohingya villages "with the intent to destroy the group in whole or in part"; the targeting of children; and the commission of rape and sexual violence on a massive scale.

As for ongoing acts of genocide, the application highlights continuing attacks on the Rohingya, notably the destruction of more than 30 villages between November 2018 and May 2019 and the denial to Rohingya of access to food. It also notes the Fact-Finding Mission's recent warning that the 600,000 Rohingya still in Myanmar live under the threat of further genocidal acts by Myanmar.

6.What relief can the ICJ provide to victims if it rules in favor of Gambia?

Gambia has asked the court to declare that Myanmar has and continues to breach its obligations under the Genocide Convention; must cease ongoing genocidal acts and fully respect its obligations moving forward; must ensure that perpetrators of genocide are held to account before a competent tribunal; and must provide reparations to Rohingya victims of genocidal acts, including "allowing the safe and dignified return" of those who have been forcibly displaced and "respect for their full citizenship and human rights and protection against discrimination, persecution and other related acts." Gambia has also asked that Myanmar offer assurances and guarantees of non-repetition of violations of the Genocide Convention.

Under article 94 of the UN Charter, all member countries must abide by ICJ decisions in cases to which they are a party, and in the event of non-compliance, the UN Security Council may "decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment."

7.Who are the ICJ's judges?

The ICJ's 15-member bench is composed of judges from different countries representing the world's main legal systems. ICJ judges work independently of any government and before taking up their duties, must solemnly declare in open court that they will "exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously." Each judge is elected to serve a nine-year term.

Under article 31 of the ICJ Statute, a party to a case before the ICJ can appoint an ad hoc judge to act in the case if it does not already have a judge of its nationality on the bench.

Gambia has asked the court to appoint South African jurist Dr. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay as its ad hoc judge. Pillay served as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court before becoming the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014.

Myanmar has asked the court to appoint German academic Professor Claus Kress as its ad hoc judge. Kress is the director of the Institute of International Peace and Security Law at the University of Cologne, Germany.

8.Has the ICJ ruled on other genocide cases?

In 2007, the ICJ ruled that there was a genocide in the Srebrenica enclave in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that Serbia violated its duty to prevent genocide. The court also ruled that Serbia violated its duty to punish genocide by failing to surrender Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, one of the architects of the Srebrenica genocide, to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for prosecution. Serbia finally surrendered Mladic to the Yugoslav tribunal in 2011.

9.Are there efforts to bring individual perpetrators in Myanmar to justice?

In November, the International Criminal Court's judges gave Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda authorization to open an investigation into crimes against humanity, notably the forced deportation in 2017 of more than 740,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, an ICC member. ICC judges previously confirmed that the court had jurisdiction because the crime of deportation was completed in an ICC member country. The judges also ruled that the prosecutor can investigate other crimes, including future crimes, if they are within the ICC's jurisdiction and are sufficiently linked to the situation described in the prosecutor's request – which focused on crimes committed during two waves of violence, in 2016 and 2017 in Rakhine State – since Bangladesh became an ICC member in June 2010.

Myanmar is not a member of the Rome Statute, the court's founding treaty, so only the UN Security Council can refer all grave crimes in Myanmar to the ICC for investigation. An ICC referral remains critical to address the full scope of criminality in Rakhine State and in Kachin and Shan States, where the military has used many of the same brutal tactics against other ethnic minorities. An ICC referral would also give the court jurisdiction to address alleged criminality by ethnic armed groups in Myanmar.

Also in November, a group of Rohingya and Latin American human rights organizations filed a criminal case in Argentina against Myanmar's top military leaders for crimes committed in Rakhine State. The case was filed using the principle of universal jurisdiction – an avenue for crimes so serious that all states have an interest in addressing them.

Finally, in September 2018, the UN Human Rights Council created the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to collect evidence of the most serious international crimes and prepare files for criminal prosecution "to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings" in national, regional, or international courts. Myanmar announced at the General Assembly that it "reject[s] the establishment of the new Investigation Mechanism (IIM) set up to bring Myanmar to tribunals to which we object strongly," and that "we do not recognize nor will we cooperate with this mechanism."

10.What are the prospects for justice in Myanmar?

The Myanmar government has repeatedly avoided taking meaningful steps towards justice for crimes committed by its military.

In July 2018, the government established the "International Commission of Enquiry," with the participation of two international members, including the chair who has said that "there will be no blaming, [...] no finger-pointing of anybody." This commission has yet to deliver any results, and likely will not, given its own lack of credibility and the resounding failure of previous government commissions. Myanmar authorities have also taken steps to erase evidence of crimes, notably bulldozing over numerous Rohingya villages to make way for military installments.

In November 2018, Myanmar's commander-in-chief, Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, pardoned seven Tatmadaw soldiers who served just seven months of their 10-year prison sentences for their role in a massacre of Rohingya in Inn Din village. They served less prison time than Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters journalists who uncovered the killings and who were convicted by a Yangon court of obtaining state secrets in a proceeding that highlighted the lack of independence of Myanmar's judiciary. Both journalists spent a total of 17 months in prison before their May 2019 amnesty and release. The government's handling of the Inn Din case casts serious doubt on the ability of the military's court of inquiry created in March 2019 to address allegations of human rights violations in northern Rakhine State committed by its own soldiers.

In November 2019, the government announced it had formed yet another mechanism, this time a "Special Unit on International Criminal Justice in order to strengthen internal capacity and expertise, and provide legal opinion to relevant Ministries on issues related to international criminal law," under the State Counsellor's office, including two military officers. But the UN-documented structural obstacles to criminal accountability in Myanmar – including the lack of independence of Myanmar's judges, as well as the current constitutional and legal framework that prevents the civilian authorities from holding the military or its members accountable for human rights violations  significantly dim the prospects for any credible justice mechanism in Myanmar.

Exiled: The Roots of Myanmar's Persecution of the Rohingya

Source Aljazeera, 25 Nov

Insight into the harrowing experiences faced by Myanmar's Rohingya at the hands of the military and Buddhist factions.

A film by Shahida Tulaganova


"After killing all the men, they asked: 'Who are you?' We replied: 'We are Rohingya, Rohingya'. They said: 'This is not your country, you can't live here," recalls Rowza Begun, a Rohingya refugee.

In August 2017, Myanmar's military launched a large-scale "security clearance operation" in the northern Rakhine state which left thousands dead and drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes to neighbouring Bangladesh.

The crackdown on the Rohingya has been described by the UN as ethnic cleansing and possible genocide, and UN investigators have warned that the genocide threat for Myanmar's Rohingya is greater than ever.

The aim of the film was to show that the genocide against the Rohingya minority in Burma, Myanmar, was happening as early as 1978. Whatever we saw in 2017, the mass exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh, was just the last straw in a campaign systematically played by the Burmese authorities throughout the years. That was the "final solution" as one of the Burmese Generals said, the final solution to the Rohingya issue is Myanmar. But the problem started as early as 1978 when the first ever exodus of Rohingya happened from Myanmar to Bangladesh. For me it was very important to show both sides of the story, Rohingya and Burmese, and I managed to do that.

Shahida Tulaganova, filmmaker

Despite historical evidence of their long-standing presence in Rakhine state, Myanmar's government and army refuses to recognise the Rohingya's right to citizenship and classifies them as "illegal migrants" from Bangladesh and India.

"They call themselves Rohingya, but to us they are Bengali. What do you want us to do? There's too many of them," says U Parmaukha, a nationalist Buddhist monk.

When modern Burma was established after gaining independence from Britain in 1948, the Rohingya were first recognised as part of the Burmese nation and were registered as citizens, as an ethnic minority.

But "as early as 1966, the Burmese military started to see the Rohingya as a problem," says Burmese academic Maung Zarni and explains that the government set up special forces to deal with the Muslim minority.

"Nasaka was essentially the Burmese equivalent of the SS. Nasaka was the executioner," he says.

The Nasaka border security force was set up by General Khin Nyunt, the former head of Burmese Military Intelligence, who is now thought to have masterminded the policy of ethnic cleansing leading to the persecution of the Rohingya.

"These problems with Muslims have existed since the British rule, because they brought labour from Bangladesh. Those who came from Bangladesh, we could not accept them," Khin Nyunt says.

"We needed to manage the population. It was the right thing to do. They were migrants. Our objective was to control our border. They were guests from Bangladesh and we didn't want to accept guests. Otherwise, there would be no more Rakhines, just more and more Muslims."

According to Zarni, the first exodus of Rohingya happened in 1978.

"They started a military campaign, which resulted in over 250,000 Rohingyas escaping to Bangladesh," he says.

"General Khin Nyunt was the guy in charge of institutionalising the killing and destruction of the Rohingyas to the point that the Rohingya community would be wiped out. Khin Nyunt should be prosecuted for not simply crimes against humanity - for genocide."

In November 2019, three separate cases were filed against Myanmar for atrocities against Rohingya people in the first international legal attempts to bring justice to what the UN has called "one of the most persecuted minorities in the world".

Directed by award-winning director and war reporter Shahida Tulaganova, Exiled explores the roots and historical context of increasing violence in Rakhine State, covering the perspectives of Rohingya refugees, former Burmese government officials and radical Buddhist monks. Also featured is General Khin Nyunt, the former head of Burmese Military Intelligence who is considered the instigator of the policy of ethnic cleansing which has resulted in the relentless persecution of the Rohingya.

Source: Al Jazeera


Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Rohingya Repatriation: Stop your propaganda

Source thedailystar, 25 Nov

Dhaka asks Naypyidaw; urges conducive environment in Rakhine

A Rohingya refugee repairs the roof of his shelter at the Balukhali refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bang-ladesh, March 5, 2019. Reuters File Photo

Dhaka has asked Naypyidaw to stop concocting campaigns against Bangladesh and focus on creating an environment in Rakhine conducive to sustained repatriation and reintegration of the Rohingyas. 

Myanmar continues to spread fabricated information, misrepresented facts, and unsubstantiated claims to unjustifiably shift the onus of the Rohingya crisis on Bangladesh, said Bangladesh foreign ministry in a statement yesterday.

"This testifies to Myanmar's campaign to avoid its obligations to create conducive environment in Rakhine for the sustainable repatriation and reintegration of the Rohingyas," it said.

Some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military campaign in Myanmar's Rakhine State. Since then, two attempts of repatriation failed as Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar camps refused to return, saying that Myanmar has not ensured safety in Rakhine and there was no guarantee of citizenship. 

However, Myanmar always tried to pass the blame on Bangladesh, the ministry said.

On November 15, Myanmar's State Counsellor's Office spokesperson claimed that non-cooperation and non-respect of bilateral arrangements by Bangladesh was responsible for non-commencement of Rohingya repatriation.

Myanmar's claim of return of a handful of people, who are not verified, does not testify to any improvement of the ground reality in Rakhine, the ministry said.  

While Myanmar claims that the situation in Rakhine is conducive enough for repatriation, it must allow the international community, including UN officials, international media, and representatives of the prospective returnees, to visit the places of return to assess the ground reality and help the returnees make an informed choice.

Myanmar always alleges that the Rohingyas do not want to return due to intimidation and negative propaganda by ARSA elements and NGO staffers in the camps in Cox's Bazar. Such allegations are totally baseless and must have originated out of some ulterior motives, the ministry said.

There are no ARSA activities in the Rohingya camps, it said, adding, "Myanmar is carrying out such propaganda to avoid its responsibility and misguide the international community."

Myanmar has so far verified only 65 out of about 450 Hindus sheltered in Bangladesh. Before alleging that Bangladesh did not send Hindus back to Rakhine, Myanmar should have completed verification of past residency of all these people. 

"If Myanmar was really sincere about the repatriation, it must have by now arranged return of about 4,200 Rohingyas from the "no man's land" at Bangladesh-Myanmar border and resettled around 140,000 individuals from IDP [internally displaced person] camps in Rakhine to their respective places of origin," the ministry said.

It is an established fact that the Rohingya crisis resulted from systematic disenfranchisement and brutal persecution of this religious minority by the successive regimes in Myanmar, it said.  

"Continuation of the same by the present government is the sole reason for the gravity of the crisis," the statement added. 

"Bangladesh has no interest in delaying the repatriation. Sincerity of Bangladesh in facilitating earliest repatriation of Rohingyas as per bilateral instruments has been unquestionably established through its actions."

Myanmar must not expect Bangladesh to cooperate in repatriation in an uncertain environment in Rakhine, Dhaka said, adding that despite disappointing experiences in the past and greater challenges ahead, Bangladesh primarily relied on bilateral engagements with Myanmar and concluded two instruments on return.

As per the deals, Myanmar is under obligation to bring back normalcy in Rakhine and create an environment conducive to the repatriation and addressing the root causes of the Rohingya crisis. Moreover, Myanmar is entirely responsible for encouraging the Rohingyas in their voluntary return. 

"Unfortunately, Myanmar has utterly failed to demonstrate any political will to fulfil its obligations and is trying to shift the onus on Bangladesh," the statement said. 

If Myanmar is really sincere about ensuring justice and ending the culture of impunity, it should extend full cooperation for ongoing international accountability initiatives.

The Bangladesh government has consistently been pursuing the policy of good neighbourhood to resolve the protracted crisis through dialogues, the statement added.

Therefore, unjustifiable accusations by Myanmar, which is solely held responsible for the crisis, are totally unacceptable, it added.   

First step towards justice for the Rohingya

15 Nov, link here


0:27 / 4:26

First step towards justice for the Rohingya



Saturday, 16 November 2019

Why Africa's smallest country is taking on the Rohingya genocide crisis

Source SBS, 13 Nov
The small African nation of the Gambia has filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice, formally accusing Myanmar of genocide against its Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar vehemently denies a genocide has taken place.  

It has been over two years since the 'clearance operations' of the Myanmar military forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from their homes across the border into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Human rights groups and the UN published myriad reports of mass rapes, killings, and torture on a terrifying scale. The consequential humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh remains a challenge for aid agencies, and survivors of the violence in Myanmar remain vulnerable to ongoing threats in the camps. The situation for the Rohingya still stuck in Myanmar is even worse.

But the international community failed to act on the genocidal acts perpetrated by the military. China and Russia have refused to allow the UN Security Council to hear a briefing on the situation in Myanmar, let alone refer the situation to the International Criminal Court where individual perpetrators could be charged with genocide.

China has longstanding geostrategic interests in Myanmar, including land access to the Bay of Bengal and the country's rich natural resources. Russia's interests are often in never letting the international community stand in the way of a state acting autonomously within its own borders.

In this Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, file photo, newly arrived Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar prepare to leave a transit shelter in Shahparirdwip, Bangladesh.
Newly arrived Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar prepare to leave a transit shelter in Shahparirdwip, Bangladesh, 2017.
AP

Why Gambia?

Myanmar is not a member of the International Criminal Court, so without a referral from the Security Council the only charges that court can pursue relate to forced deportation of Rohingya to Bangladesh.

But before the International Criminal Court was even conceived, in the aftermath of the holocaust the international community agreed that genocide was a crime that was everyone's responsibility to prevent and punish.

It is this treaty, the Genocide Convention of 1948, that has allowed Africa's smallest continental country to take the government of Myanmar to the International Court of Justice for the genocide of the Rohingya.

The Gambia, a majority Muslim country, is bringing the case on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, but the campaign to bring the case has been led by their Minister for Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou who had previously worked on prosecutions for the Rwandan genocide.

When Vice-President Isatou Touray announced to the United Nations General Assembly they would be pursuing the case, she said The Gambia "is a small country with a big voice on matters of human rights on the continent and beyond" explaining that pursuing an ICJ case against the government of Myanmar would be a central pillar of this policy.

The Gambia is returning from a period of political turmoil. The new government has prioritised human rights policies domestically, across Africa and the world. Pursuing a case at the International Court of Justice is deeply connected to this priority and is an expression of good governance and support for international law.

Habiburahman fled Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2000, before coming to Australia by boat.
Habiburahman fled Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2000, before coming to Australia by boat.
SBS News

Upon hearing the news about the case, Refugee Council of Australia Ambassador and Rohingya refugee  Habiburahman (Habib)  said he was relieved.

"It is the first time member states of the United Nations are unitedly standing up against genocide of Rohingya ... I hope one day it will achieve justice for Rohingya people," he said.

There has been an advocacy effort for The Gambian case to be supported by non-Muslim countries as well. In particular, significant efforts were made to get the Canadian government to join the case. But no other country joined The Gambia as co-applicant.

Other countries can still join the case or provide formal interventions to the court, including to ensure the sexual and gender-based violence aspects of the genocide are suitably considered in the case.

What happens now?

A case before the International Court of Justice may take years to play out. But it can have some immediate benefits for Rohingya.

The Gambia has requested the court make provisional measures, which are orders of the court that are binding on the government of Myanmar, including the armed forces. The Gambia asked for such orders to be made to protect Rohingya from ongoing acts of genocide and prevent the destruction of evidence. The court can issue such orders in a matter of weeks.

Because the International Court of Justice is not a court that deals with individual accountability, but state responsibility, no one goes to jail at the end of a case.

What will it achieve?

The focus of this court is about settling a dispute between states about the implementation of a treaty. So, it doesn't have the same approach to victims as other courts. However, the court does have the capacity to award reparations.

The main benefit of such a case is that it recognises the collective harm, rather than just the individual harm of genocidal acts. Genocide is a crime intended to destroy an entire community. The entire Rohingya community has been affected, and a case before the International Court of Justice is the best way to account for that.

For Habib, this case gives some hope of a different future for Myanmar and the Rohingya.

"The military generals have never been prosecuted for their crimes, in the past or the present," he said.

"It is very important for the future that they are held accountable and they change their behaviour. This case will shape democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar."