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Experts question China's underhanded influence after ICC rejected call for probe in Uyghur genocide

ANI | Updated: Dec 24, 2020 03:25 IST

Washington [US], December 24 (ANI): Experts have questioned China's underhanded influence on the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and said "the international legal system suffers from a double standard" after the court rejected a plea to investigate Beijing's alleged genocide against Uyghurs.
Recently, the ICC rejected a plea to open an investigation in the mounting allegation of genocide against the Uyghur Muslims. An advocate said that China is well aware of the "pain and havoc Beijing could impose on the court and its officials, including the justices and prosecutors", according to experts and advocates, Fox News reported.
Last week, the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that the "precondition for the exercise of the court's territorial jurisdiction did not appear to be met with respect to the majority of the crimes alleged" since they appear "to have been committed solely by nationals of China within the territory of China, a State which is not a party to the Statute".
Analysts have questioned the argument and raised questions over a broader influence of China in the international community and throughout the United Nations, of which The Hague, Netherlands, is affiliated with but functions independently, Fox News reported.
"It is truly amazing and revealing that the Chief Prosecutor so quickly determined that the ICC lacked jurisdiction to investigate the alleged genocide being perpetrated against the Uyghurs by the Chinese government," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an Israel-based attorney who has long specialized in suing terrorist regimes and state sponsors who orchestrate human rights abuses on behalf of victims.
"Fatou Bensouda's announcement that since China is not a state member, she is powerless to proceed against Beijing must be contrasted with her ruthless pursuit of war crime allegations against Israel and the United States. Like China, neither Israel nor the US is a signatory to the Rome Treaty," Darshan-Leitner further said.
China is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which founded the ICC in 2002. The court was intended to be the world's first permanent international criminal legal structure to endorse the rule of law, ensure human rights protection, and punish the most abhorrent international crimes.
According to credible reports, more than one million people, are or have been, detained in what is being called 'political re-education' centres, in the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic minority population in the world today.
The internment camp system in the XUAR is expanding, with more than 380 suspected detention facilities having been newly built or expanded since 2017, and at least 61 detention sites newly constructed or expanded between July 2019 and July 2020.

The EP observed that the Chinese authorities are systematically subjecting Uyghur women of childbearing age to forced abortions, intrauterine injections and sterilisation, with 80 per cent of all new intrauterine device (IUD) placements in China in 2018 performed in the Uyghur region, despite the fact that it makes up only 1.8 percent of China's population; whereas such measures to prevent births within the Uyghur population could meet the criteria for belonging to the worst crimes against humanity.
"China has tried to avoid the ICC at all costs. Recently, on November 18, 2020, the Chinese government held a press conference in Urumchi and pushed back against the Uyghurs' complaint to the ICC," Salih Hudayar, prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, which filed the investigation request, told Fox News.
According to Darshan-Leitner, if the ICC did decide to investigate further and indict China, the CCP would likely utilize "all its political and economic might to derail the investigation".
"China would correctly argue it did not sign the Rome Treaty and the ICC lacks jurisdiction. Moreover, China would flex its muscles and demand all member countries that want to continue doing business with China to place pressure on the chief prosecutor to terminate the investigation," she surmised.
"China is an international powerhouse economically, politically and militarily. The ICC is well aware of the pain and havoc Beijing could impose on the court and its officials, including the justices and prosecutors," she added.
However, last year, the ICC allowed a probe into crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Burma, also called Myanmar and Bangladesh. Myanmar is not a member of the ICC either. Still, the court determined that it had the authority to investigate the alleged crimes in Bangladesh, which ratified the Rome Statute a decade ago.
Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas also pointed out that in 2019, there was a complaint against China for crimes against the Philippines. Still, the prosecutor concluded that the crimes did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Court.
"This is a general problem with the international legal system. In principle, the rule of law means that no one is above the law. Yet, for the international instances which address international law, that is not the case," he said.
"China objectively is big, relatively well to do and powerful. The weight it objectively has is magnified in the international arena because of solidarity among non-democratic regimes as well as gratitude for the money China pours on developing countries with the expectation of political support in exchange," he noted.
"Look at the issue only of transfer, addressed for both countries in 2020. For China, as noted, the prosecutor concluded that there was an insufficient basis on which to proceed. The conclusion for Israel was the opposite that, on transfer, there were reasonable grounds to believe that the crime had occurred," he argued. (ANI)