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As Bangladeshi individuals and organisations engaged in seeking justice for those subjected to violations of rights, we welcome the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor for a ruling by ICC judges on whether the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate the deportation of Rohingya people from Myanmar from 25 August 2017 onwards. We call on the Government to respond to the invitation from ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I to Bangladesh authorities to submit, by 11 June 2018, observations on the question and to support the Prosecutor’s request.

Photo: K.M. Asad/Drik/Majority World

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision of 7 May has been made in response to the 9 April Request by the ICC Prosecutor, seeking a ruling on whether the Court has jurisdiction over the deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar as a crime against humanity.

In her request, the Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda submitted that the ICC has territorial jurisdiction under Article 12(2)(a) of the Rome Statute, based on the deportation of persons from the territory of a State which is not a party to the Statute (Myanmar) directly into the territory of a State Party (Bangladesh). She further submitted that the Court may exercise jurisdiction because an essential legal element of the crime of deportation, namely ‘crossing an international border’, occurred on the territory of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has yet to respond to the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision inviting observations of the Government.

It is our considered view that Bangladesh as a state party to the Rome Statute and a country which has its own history of having suffered war crimes and bringing those responsible to justice, must respond to this request. We believe the Government of Bangladesh should provide the Court with all information in its possession about the circumstances surrounding the presence of the Rohingya on its territory, as invited by the Pre-Trial Chamber. It needs to do so as a matter of principle, because as a State Party to the ICC, Bangladesh has committed itself to promoting accountability for mass atrocities. As disclosed by the Bangladesh Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP), over 700,000 of the 1 million Rohingyas who have been registered entered Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar since 25 August 2017 (see reports of 19th meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Home Affairs in January 2018). Bangladesh has been compelled to address the humanitarian consequences of the deportation, and as such has an interest in providing information to ICC.

We urge the Government of Bangladesh to respond to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber’s request for observations and to support the view of the Prosecutor that the Court may assert jurisdiction against Myanmar. This will be an important first step in ensuring justice for the victims of the crimes against humanity that have occurred in Myanmar and a significant action for us to take as a people and a nation that has suffered horrific war crimes during our liberation war of 1971, which went unaddressed for too long.

Bangladesh ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2010. Bangladesh has repeatedly drawn the attention of the international community to the crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar since August 2017.

Due to the limited scope for international action, this crisis is yet to be addressed. Myanmar is not a State Party to the Rome Statute and the UN Security Council has not as yet referred the situation in Myanmar to the ICC. No significant action has been taken within Myanmar to address the alleged crimes. Against this background, the ICC Prosecutor submitted a Request to the ICC under Articles 19(3) and 42 of the Rome Statute seeking a rule of the Court on its jurisdiction over the deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, which could be a milestone in addressing this crisis. The current request, even if results in a ruling that the Court has jurisdiction, would not relate to the alleged crimes of murder, rape, arson committed in their entirety in Myanmar territory as these cannot be brought as individual charges.

Endorsed by:
1. Dr Shahdeen Malik, Advocate, Supreme Court
2. Dr Shahidul Alam, Founder DRIK
3. Dr Shahnaz Huda, Professor of Law, University of Dhaka
4. Khushi Kabir, Nijera Kori
5. Ayesha Khanum, President, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad
6. Dr Maleka Begum, Columnist and Women’s Rights Activist
7. Dr Hameeda Hossain, Human Rights Defender
8. Dr Sumaiya Khair, Professor of Law, University of Dhaka
9. Dr Asif Nazrul, Professor of Law, University of Dhaka
10. Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, Secretary SHUJON
11. Farida Akhter, Executive Director, UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative)
12. Dr Iftekhar Zaman, Executive Director, Transparency International Bangladesh
13. Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, Advocate, Supreme Court
14. Lubna Marium, Artistic Director, Shadhona
15. Barrister Manzoor Hasan OBE, Executive Director, Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University
16. Md. Nur Khan, Human Rights Activist
17. Muktasree Chakma Sathi, Women’s Rights Activist
18. Reza Lenin, Human Rights Defender
19. Dr Shapan Adnan, Economist
20. Zakir Hossain, Nagorik Uddyog
21. Cynthia Farid, Advocate, Supreme Court
22. Mahmud Rahman, Visual Advocacy through photography
23. Asif Munier, Rights and Cultural Activist
24. Professor Dr Naila Z. Khan, Paediatrician
25. Syeed Ahamed, CEO at IID (Institute of Informatics and Development)
26. Manjida Ahamed, PhD Student, Middlesex University, London
27. Dr Samina Lutfa, Department of Sociology, University of Dhaka
28. Professor Dr Perween Hasan, Vice Chancellor, Central Women’s University
29. Dr Ali Riaz, Professor of Political Science, Illinois State University, USA
30. Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, Physician and Health Rights Activist
31. Dr Lamia Karim, Professor of Anthropology, University of Oregon, USA
32. Mahrukh Mohiuddin, Director, Operations & Business Development, The University Press Limited.
33. Razia Quadir, Documentary Film Maker
34. Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh
35. Dr Manzur Kadir Ahmed, CEO, Gonoshasthaya Kendra
36. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director, COAST & Co Chair, Coxs Bazaar CSO NGO Forum
37. Maheen Sultan, Women’s Rights Activist
38. Barrister Sara Hossain, Advocate, Supreme Court
39. Dr. Ridwanul Hoque, Professor of Law, University of Dhaka
40. Quazi Omar FOYSAL, PhD student, Graduate Institute, Geneva
41. Shireen P Huq , Women’s Rights Activist, Naripokkho

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