DHAKA (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court has asked Bangladesh to weigh in as the court considers a request by the ICC prosecutor for jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court last month to rule on whether it had jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya last year.
In a May 7 letter to the Bangladesh government, the ICC said the country had been “affected by the events concerning the alleged deportation of Rohingya people from Myanmar”, and it was appropriate to seek its observations on the matter.
It also sought Dhaka’s views on the court’s “exercise of territorial jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh”.
Myanmar has expressed “serious concern” about the prosecutor’s request, and a government spokesman said on Wednesday it would have no effect because Myanmar is not a member of the ICC.
“ICC will have no effect on Myanmar and ICC cannot take action on Myanmar,” spokesman Zaw Htay told Reuters in Yangon.
Attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August sparked a military crackdown that, according to the United Nations and rights groups, sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to camps in Bangladesh.
The United Nations said the military action amounted to ethnic cleansing. Myanmar denies the accusation, saying it was engaged in legitimate counter-insurgency operations.
The May 7 letter, seen by Reuters, asked the Bangladesh government about the “circumstances surrounding the presence” of Rohingya in the country.
Bangladesh foreign ministry spokesman Touhidul Islam said the government was considering the ICC’s request.
“Before sending any observation the country needs some time to take a decision,” he told Reuters.
Additional reporting by Shoon Naing, writing by Krishna N. Das, editing by Darren Schuettler, Larry King