Facebook objected to the request to handover Myanmar official’s data for the genocide case

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By Rashi Jain-

The Gambia, a small West African country requested the International Court of Justice to subpoena Facebook to hand over data related to the Myanmar genocide case, especially the post and communications by Myanmar’s official. However, the Tech giant requested the U.S. to reject the demand, reasoning that it would violate U.S Law barring electronic telecommunication companies from disclosing its users’ communications.

Facebook said, “the request, made in June, for the release of all documents and communications by key military officials and police forces was extraordinarily broad and would constitute special and unbounded access to accounts.”

The case of the Genocide of Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar was brought to the International Court of Justice by the Gambia on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The Gambia is a Muslim majority country, with 90% of the population practising Islam. Myanmar, however, questioned the standing of the Gambia in the dispute. The court concluded that the Gambia has prima facie standing to submit the dispute with Myanmar, since the obligation under the Genocide conventions are obligations erga amnes partes, which means any party to the convention is entitled to invoke the responsibility of another state for breach of its obligation, without having to prove a special interest.

The Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar by the Office of the High commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) also mentioned about Facebook’s role in the wrongs done by Myanmar’s official –

“The role of social media is significant. Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate, in a context where, for most users, Facebook is the Internet. Although improved in recent months, the response of Facebook has been slow and ineffective. The extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination and violence must be independently and thoroughly examined. The mission regrets that Facebook is unable to provide country-specific data about the spread of hate speech on its platform, which is imperative to assess the adequacy of its response.”

The above report by OHCHR concerning case after conducting extensive research concluded the following-

Firstly the report suggested that there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution official in the Tatmadaw chain of command so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide. (Tatmadaw is the official name of the armed forces of Myanmar.)

Secondly, the report concluded based on information gathered that the crime against humanity has been committed, the crime includes murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and enslavement.

Thirdly, the report concluded that these above-mentioned crimes committed by ethnic armed organisations and ARSA (Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army) can also constitute a war crime. At last, the report concluded that “Non-State armed groups have committed crimes against civilians, for which they should be held accountable. During the period under review, the Tatmadaw was the main perpetrator of serious human rights violations and crimes under international law in Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan States. In addition, in Rakhine State, the Myanmar police force, NaSaKa 11, and Border Guard Police were also perpetrators. Local authorities, militias, militant “civilian” groups, politicians, and monks participated or assisted in violations, to varying degrees.

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