Rohingya genocide ruling: A victory for humankind

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If The Gambia is a champion of humanity, Abubacarr Tambadou is the man of the moment. The man alone fought for the over one million friendless and hapless Rohingyas and won the legal combat single handedly.

What the entire world had failed to do, Abubacarr did. The Gambia did the job. The tiny state of 11,295 sq km showed the world how to serve humanity irrespective of borders and cultural differences, and how to speak up without consideration of any personal gains.

With this historic victory, every victim of genocide around the globe won. Also, this victory has rekindled the hope of returning home for the Rohingyas.

When repatriation deals between Bangladesh and Myanmar were failing one after another, mostly because of Myanmar’s negligence, when Rohingyas’ prospect for return to their homeland was fading away, The Gambia stood with a torch.

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When the host country like Bangladesh opted to remain mum, The Gambia spoke out. When the global leaders prevaricated to bring out any tangible measure to protect the most tortured ethnic minority in the world, The Gambia showed the way.

Last November, under the leadership of its justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou, The Gambia launched a lawsuit at International Court of Justice accusing Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya for violating provisions in the 1948 convention.

Following the two-day arguments and counter arguments, the United Nations' highest legal entity which deals with disputes between states finally on 23 January pronounced the verdict directing Myanmar on several provisos. It ordered the accused to take certain urgent measures to protect its Rohingya population from persecution and atrocities, and preserve evidence of alleged crimes against them.

What the ICJ said?

In a unanimous historic ruling by a panel of 17 judges, the court finally set four interim measures for Myanmar.

Firstly, the World Court ordered The Republic of the Union of Myanmar to take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Conventionto protest the members of the Rohingya group in its territory, in particular from -- (a) killing members of the group, (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group, (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.

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Secondly, the ICJ asked Myanmar, in relation to the members of the Rohingya group in its territory, to “ensure that its military, as well as any irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it and any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit any acts described in point (1) above, or of conspiracy to commit genocide, of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, of attempt to commit genocide, or of complicity in genocide.”

Thirdly, the court said Myanmar shall take “effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

Fourthly, “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar shall submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order within four months, as from the date of this Order, and thereafter every six months, until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court.”

In other words, this verdict means little against a crime like genocide which has already been committed forcing the nearly entire population of the victim community out of its territory. The ICJ ruling does not put any enforcement for Myanmar. Thursday's rulings only pointed up Gambia's request for interim measures. But something is always better than nothing.

Who is Abubacarr?

Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, popularly called Ba Tambadou at home, was born 12 December 1972. He is a lawyer and politician. He has been serving as the justice minister of The Gambia since 7 February 2017.

The son of a businessman from Banjul of The Gambia, the 46-year-old Abubacarr studied Bachelor of Law (LLB) between September 1994 and July 1997 at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom and later he was conferred with Barrister-at-Law at Lincoln’s Inn. He returned home in the late 1990s to practice law. He can speak fluently in six languages including English and French.

Fighting for genocide victims is nothing new for Abubacarr. He became famous when he was first appointed as the prosecutor at a UN tribunal over the Rwanda genocide. His battle for the Rohingya genocide case has reinforced his commitment to humanity.

*Toriqul Islam is a journalist working at Prothom Alo. He can be reached at toriqul38@gmail.com.

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