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Guernica 37 Chambers Press Release

Date: 29 May 2024

Guernica 37 Chambers is calling on the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the forcible removal of Rohingya refugees from India to Bangladesh. In a submission filed to the OTP on 29 May 2024, Guernica 37 Chambers sets out how Rohingyas who fled mass atrocities in Myanmar in 2016/2017 are being coerced to leave India as part of the government’s anti-Muslim campaign.

Guernica 37 Chambers Press Statement
Guernica 37 Chambers Press Statement

While from 2012 to 2017, Rohingyas who arrived in India from Myanmar were granted permission to remain in India with refugee status determined by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and thereby had access to basic services and could work, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs in August 2017 - at the height of the atrocities in Myanmar - labelled Rohingyas as illegal immigrants, stripped them of their refugee status and ordered their deportation. As a result, authorities began detaining thousands of Rohingyas to await deportation. While some were deported by the government, many more decided to flee once again, leaving India for Bangladesh.

“The authorities are making life for Rohingyas unlivable in India. Not only are they facing indefinite immigration detention but by losing their protection as refugees they also no longer have access to health services, education, and work. Such coercive circumstances leave them no choice but to depart.”, explains Omar Soliman, Barrister at Guernica 37 Chambers.

The submission to the OTP argues that Indian officials are in fact deporting Rohingyas to Bangladesh which would fall under the ICC’s mandate to investigate. The ICC is currently investigating potential crimes against humanity committed against Rohingyas from October 2016 onwards when around 750,000 victims were driven out of Myanmar’s Rakhine state by the Burmese military in a clearance operation that the United States considers as genocide. Myanmar is not a State Party to the ICC but because Bangladesh ratified the Rome Statute, the ICC has the power to investigate cross-border crimes, such as deportation.

“India’s policy to detain and deport Rohingyas is a cross-border crime because they are forced to leave one country to flee to another country. This situation is comparable to the deportation from Myanmar to Bangladesh, and the victims are the same who fled the attacks in Rakhine state. The ICC should investigate Indian officials in the same manner.”, demands Toby Cadman, Co-Head of Guernica 37 Chambers.

The shift in government policies towards Rohingyas exemplifies the anti-Muslim agenda of the government led by the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Since coming into power in 2014, the BJP has embarked on a multi-pronged campaign against Muslims, evident through its public rhetoric, policies, legislative agenda, and the absence of accountability for religiously motivated persecution and violence.

Media Contact:

Guernica 37 Chambers

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Email: Telephone: +44 (0)203 597 7130

Web: Twitter: @guernica37group


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