AllAboutLaw blog: Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, India’s citizenship law, and more

This week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw blog looks into the current hearings at the International Court of Justice regarding the Rohingya persecution, the discontent surrounding the newly enacted citizenship law in India, and Prince Andrew’s involvement with Jeffrey Epstein.

  • Last updated Dec 18, 2019 10:05:23 AM
  • Tuula Petersen
Image by Captain Raju on Wikimedia Commons

The alleged Rohingya genocide reaches the International Court of Justice

Hearings have begun at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over allegations of genocide in Myanmar against the Rohingya minority. The allegations stem from an ethnic cleansing campaign launched in August 2017 forcing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees to flee Myanmar to neighbouring countries. 

The Gambia initiated these hearings at the highest court in the United Nations alleging that the government of Myanmar has been complicit in crimes committed against the Rohingyas, stating that the government should be held accountable for “killing, causing serious bodily and mental harm, inflicting conditions that are calculated to bring about physical destruction, imposing measures to prevent births, and forcible transfers.”

However, as the proceedings progressed at the ICJ, the Myanmar government still refused to recognise the identity of the persecuted Rohingya minority by failing to explicitly mention their identity. The hearings have proved to be particularly controversial due to Aung San Suu Kyi’s decision to appear before the court defending her country.

Aung San Suu Kyi was once considered a key defender of universal human rights. So much so that in 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She faced years of detention and imprisonment for seeking to bring democracy to military-ruled Myanmar, becoming an emblem of peaceful resilience. Aung San Suu Kyi won the country’s first election in 2015 to officially be given the title of state counsellor. However, since the exodus of Rohingya Muslims, she has been accused of doing nothing to stop the alleged genocide.


At the ICJ, Aung San Suu Kyi defended her country, claiming the allegations are founded on an “incomplete and misleading factual picture of the situation” and that the violence was triggered by terrorist attacks from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Her comments came as a shock to prior supporters who thought she represented a figure of democratic hope. Rohingya refugees attending the emergency hearing expressed their outrage against the state counsellor’s statement.

Image: Captain Raju on Wikimedia Commons 



“The harms around taking, making and sharing intimate images without consent are well known, and there is a clear need for development of the law as it applies to this spectrum of behaviours.”

Aislinn O’Connell, a lecturer in law at Royal Hollaway, writing about revenge porn in her article ‘Image rights and image wrongs: image-based sexual abuse and online takedown’.



Firm news

Hogan Lovells has opened a new South African office, following a split from local firm Routledge Modise.

Sidley Austin has announced the names of its new partners as of January 1 2020.

Legal services income at KPMG grew by just 3%, and the average partner distribution for 2019 fell from £690,000 to £640,000. 

Former Shearman & Sterling employees have launched a start-up called Legal Innovators. The company hires law graduates who have the potential to be competitive in BigLaw despite being overlooked by law firms focusing on first-year grades or students at top law schools.



Eastern India protests: a not-so-welcome citizenship law

A newly-enacted Indian citizenship law has been met with fierce opposition, as protests raged in eastern India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the new legislation, which will protect religious minorities—such as Hindus and Christians—from persecution in neighbouring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan by offering them Indian citizenship. However, critics claim the law omits Muslims, thereby weakening the secular foundations of India. Following days of protests, hundreds have called for an investigation into the alleged police brutality and detention of students.



Deadlines are fast approaching to apply to vacation schemes. Make sure to check our jobs page to see what opportunities are still available to you.



Prince Andrew: A call for cooperation

In a letter to Prince Andrew, Gloria Allred, the lawyer representing five of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, has called for the Duke to “actively participate in providing sworn testimony to the FBI”. A woman identified as Jane Doe alleges she was sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein, and Prince Andrew’s “prestige and reputation” were used as a tool to lure in victims. The accusations follow a BBC interview where Prince Andrew denies any involvement in sexual misconduct related to his relationship with the disgraced sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.



Recommended reading

1. Refinitiv, the financial information provider that distributes Reuters, has censored a growing number of articles about the Hong Kong protests in mainland China under pressure from the central government. 

2. As the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Trump, here is a run-through of last week’s highlights and what to expect this week.

3. A landmark ruling heard at the Supreme Court on Monday will pave the way for future claims in negligence, as a woman sought US surrogacy costs from the NHS.

4. The likely possibility of the re-election of an ousted president has fueled recent protests in Lebanon as the country faces its worst economic crisis in decades.

5. Harvey Weinstein may avoid having to apologise or pay from his own bank account in a proposed settlement of $25 million with a dozen of his alleged victims.

6. Colombia is suing Walmart over a Christmas jumper insinuating the country’s strong link to cocaine.

7. Nigeria has commenced proceedings against men for public displays of affection with members of the same sex, under the country’s anti-homosexuality laws. 

8. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has made starvation in civil conflict a war crime.


More like this

  • AllAboutLaw Blog: Islamic marriages, EU data protection and Trump’s tweets Tuula Petersen

    In this week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw Blog, we address the recent Court of Appeals’ decision to only offer English marriage law protection to registered UK marriages, the EU’s privacy concerns in relation to Facebook and a call to question the legality of Trump’s tweeting.

  • AllAboutLawBlog - Brexit negotiations, a New York state lawsuit, and moreTuula Petersen

    In this week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw Blog, we address the difficulties facing the upcoming Brexit negotiations, the New York state’s plan to sue the Trump administration and the emergency terror law in the UK.

  • AllAboutLaw Blog: coronavirus, Airbus and moreTuula Petersen

    Is the coronavirus discourse fuelling discrimination? Plus the largest settlement with a corporate malefactor and the judiciary’s diversity record, all in this week’s AllAboutLaw blog.

  • AllAboutLaw Blog: ICJ orders imposed on Myanmar, a series of phone-hacking scandals and moreTuula Petersen

    Standfirst: In this week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw Blog, we cover the unanimous decision of the UN’s highest court regarding Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya people, the alleged Saudi Arabian phone hacking scandals and the concerns of achieving a cashless society.

  • AllAboutLaw Blog: the Flybe rescue deal, a televised Crown Court and moreTuula Petersen

    In this week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw Blog we look at the government’s intervention to save Flybe from insolvency, the decision to allow televised coverage of Crown Court judgments and the controversy of New York’s new bail reform law.

Recruiting? We can help