Universal jurisdiction

The case in Argentina

Argentina is the first country where national authorities have opened an investigation into alleged serious international crimes committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

In November 2019, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK on behalf of Rohingya victims filed a petition requesting the Argentinian courts to open an investigation into the role of Myanmar’s military and civilian leaders in committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya,

In November 2021, an investigative judge of the Federal Criminal Court of Argentina commenced investigations and in 2022, delegated investigative powers to the Federal Prosecutor’s office. Since then, the Mechanism has been assisting and sharing evidence with the Prosecutor’s office following a request for its support.

What is universal jurisdiction?

This principle means that some crimes are so serious in nature that a national court may, depending on their laws, prosecute alleged perpetrators even if there is no connection between the crime and that country. Based on universal jurisdiction, perpetrators of serious international crimes may be prosecuted by a national court irrespective of where the crimes were committed or the nationality of the perpetrator or victim.

For more information, see OHCHR.