Myanmar rejects int’l court’s right to Rohingya probe

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Myanmar has "resolutely" rejected a ruling from the International Criminal Court (ICC) which said that the body had jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity.

The ruling offers "a glimmer of hope for justice" for Rohingyas who "continue to suffer in Bangladesh as a result of this serious crime", Adilur Rahman Khan, vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights, said in a statement. The government also said it had set up its own independent commission of inquiry and was willing and able to investigate any crimes and violations of human rights in its own territory.

Myanmar's government spokesman Zaw Htay did not respond to calls seeking comment on the ICC decision, instead sending a text response: "I can't talk right now".

Myanmar's government spokesman said on Friday a court that convicted two Reuters journalists under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act was independent and followed due process, after global calls for the pair to be released.

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Rohingya refugees shout slogans as they take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one year anniversary of their exodus in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, on Aug 25, 2018.

The verdict comes amid global condemnation of Myanmar's crackdown on the Rohingya about a year ago.

Thursday's decision at the Hague-based court paves the way for prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to further examine whether there is sufficient evidence to file charges in the case.

But across the border, Myanmar is outside its jurisdiction.

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Thursday's ruling now leaves a path for the ICC to announce the formal opening of a preliminary investigation into the Rohingya crisis.

The ICC ruling followed worldwide outrage triggered by the sentencing of two local Reuters journalists earlier this week for seven years in jail under a draconian state secrets act.

But the road to a tribunal will be long and complex, with China likely try to thwart any prosecution of its ally at the world's only permament war crimes court.

Myanmar has denied allegations of atrocities made against its security forces by refugees, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants.

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An investigation into the Rohingya deportations would be the third for the ICC in Asia, which is already tentatively probing alleged crimes committed during the Philippines' so-called "war on drugs campaign" and the conflict in Afghanistan.

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