Argentine court to investigate war crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar | Argentina
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Argentina’s justice system will investigate allegations of war crimes committed by the Burmese military against that country’s Rohingya minority under a court ruling upholding the principles of “universal justice.”
The decision of the Court of Appeal, of which Agence France-Presse has taken note, overturns a decision of a lower court rejecting a request for an investigation by the Burmese Rohingya organization (BROUK) based in the United Kingdom.
A 2017 military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which the UN says could amount to genocide, triggered an exodus of more than 740,000 community members, mostly to Bangladesh.
The legal premise of “universal justice” maintains that certain acts – including war crimes and crimes against humanity – are so horrific that they are not nation-specific and can be tried anywhere.
Argentine courts have heard other cases of universal jurisdiction in the past, notably in relation to the regime of ex-dictator Francisco Franco in Spain and the Falun Gong movement in China.
Lawsuits against Myanmar and its leaders are already underway before the International Criminal Court and the UN International Court of Justice.
Six Rohingya women, refugees in Bangladesh, had testified remotely before the Argentinian court.
One of the plaintiffs said that they “had all been sexually assaulted and that many members of their families had died as a result of the repression they had suffered” in August 2017, the court recalled.
In their decision, the appellate judges declared that “the investigation and possible judgment of this type of crime is the primary responsibility of States”.
BROUK Chairman Tun Knin said in a statement that the move represented hope “not only for us Rohingyas, but for the oppressed people around the world.”
He added: “The ruling in Argentina shows that there is nowhere to hide for those who commit genocide – the world is firmly united against these heinous crimes.
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