Govt urged to refer Kashmir issue to International Court of Justice in wake of Myanmar verdict

Updated 24 Jan 2020

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In its verdict, the ICJ ruled that Myanmar must implement emergency measures to protect Rohingya Muslims against violence and preserve evidence of possible genocide. — Reuters/File
In its verdict, the ICJ ruled that Myanmar must implement emergency measures to protect Rohingya Muslims against violence and preserve evidence of possible genocide. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Senior counsel Mohammad Akram Sheikh on Thursday suggested to the federal government to refer to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) the matter of violation of human rights and lockdown of eight million Kashmiri people by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir in the wake of the top UN court’s landmark verdict against the Myanmar government in a case related to Rohingya Muslims’ genocide.

In a statement issued from The Hague, Netherlands, Advocate Sheikh asked the government to request the ICJ to examine atrocities being committed by the Indian government and its security forces in its advisory jurisdiction and consider whether Article 2 of the “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV)), known also as the Declaration on Decolonisation, stands achieved.

The suggestion came after the ICJ’s judgement announced on Thursday in the Gambia versus Myanmar case which was filed by the Republic of the Gambia against Myanmar inter alia under Article VI of The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), 1951.

The case revolves around crimes committed by the Myanmar regime against the Rohingya Muslims, which were also investigated by UN organisations after Myanmar regime was accused of committing atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, including their indiscriminate killing, torture and rape.

In its verdict, the ICJ ruled that Myanmar must implement emergency measures to protect Rohingya Muslims against violence and preserve evidence of possible genocide.

In a unanimous ruling, the International Court of Justice rejected arguments made by Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in The Hague in December and set out urgent steps for the Myanmar government to end the violence against Rohingya Muslims.

Akram Sheikh was of the view that the ICJ judgement would set in motion a process of accountability in the entire Asia-Pacific region, including India, for its violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws and laws relating to genocide despite the possibility that India may not be a signatory to the Genocide Convention.

He said that it was indeed a great day in the history of the international community’s accountability for victims of international humanitarian and human rights violations worldwide and set a new trend of global state accountability in motion.

Advocate Sheikh paid tribute to two ad hoc judges, one from Gambia and one from Myanmar, for showing magnanimity with their fellow judges of the world’s top court.

This judgement would usher in an era of greater respect for basic human and fundamental rights, he said, adding that the ICJ had ruled that Myanmar must take all measures within its powers to prevent its military or others from carrying out genocidal acts against Rohingya Muslims who, it observed, faced “real and imminent risk”.

“The verdict is the first international court ruling against the Myanmar regime over its brutal treatment of the Rohingya people,” he said.

Subsequently, Mr Sheikh asked the Pakistan government to call into question the UNSC’s last week’s declaration of the Kashmir dispute as bilateral as it also required interpretation of the Simla Accord.

“The UNSC has passed 11 resolutions under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, including ordering ceasefire, and thus in peculiar facts and circumstances pertaining to Kashmir, the terming of the issue a bilateral dispute, is deeply problematic,” he said.

“The ICJ has remained consistent with its interpretations of issues of self-determination, right to plebiscite, decolonisation and other juristic issues it has already decided,” Mr Sheikh said.

“The ICJ has rendered a total of 27 advisory opinions and in none of those opinions it has endorsed apartheid, colonialism, denial of self-determination or anything obstructing a plebiscite,” he said, adding that “this consistent view of the ICJ will be a silver lining for Pakistan to approach the world court on the Kashmir issue”.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020