File photo of Rohingya refugees. Photograph:( Reuters )
According to the United Nations, over 700,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar and entered Bangladesh since August 25th last year
The International Criminal Court(ICC) said on Thursday it has jurisdiction to probe the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar as a possible crime against humanity.
The international court's move comes amid a legally complicated situation since Myanmar is not a member of the Hague-based court and the Rome Statute which underpins the ICC.
However, Bangladesh is a signatory, the court said "the cross-border nature of deportation is enough basis for jurisdiction."
According to the United Nations, over 700,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar and entered Bangladesh since August 25th last year allegedly due to atrocities committed by the Myanmar Army.
The Myanmar military commanders including the head of the civilian government Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi have been roundly criticised by the international community for not doing enough to stop the exodus of Rohingyas from Rakhine State in Myanmar.
Both the UN and US have at various times said the Myanmar government has carried out "ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingyas.
The ICC's "pre-trial chamber... decided by majority the court may exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportations of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh," the Hague-based tribunal said in a statement.
The prosecutors had asked judges for an advisory opinion on whether such actions could fall under the tribunal's jurisdiction.
ICC's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had asked judges at world court to rule whether she could investigate the deportations as a "crime against humanity". Bensouda said it "is not completed until the bullet (fired in one state) strikes and kills the victim (standing in another state)".