Yangon - Myanmar on Friday said the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction to investigate the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
The ICC on Thursday ruled it had jurisdiction over "the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people," according to a statement, paving the way for Myanmar leaders to be tried in The Hague.
"Myanmar absolutely rejects the decision which is the result of faulty procedure and is of dubious legal merit," read a statement released by the president's office on Friday.
Myanmar argued that it was not party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC. The ruling "created a dangerous precedent and erodes the moral authority of the court," Myanmar said.
The fact that the case involves a border crossing from one state not adherent to the court, Myanmar, to one that does, Bangladesh, justified the court's decision, the ICC said.
More than 700,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya have fled their homes into Bangladesh since August last year, bringing with them accounts of rape, arson and killings by Myanmar security forces.
Earlier this month the UN said the grievous human rights abuses by security forces could amount to genocide and urged prosecution of Myanmar by the ICC.
Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority group in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, were stripped of citizenship in 1982 and have been long subject to persecution in Rakhine state, where most lived.
They are labelled 'Bengali' by the government and much of the Myanmar population to infer they are interlopers from Bangladesh and are denied access to health care, education and freedom of movement.
Myanmar, in Friday's statement, said "allegations of deportations could not be further from the truth" and that it was working hard to repatriate refugees.
Government spokesperson, Zaw Htay, on Friday said Myanmar stood ready to receive the first batch of 3,000 Rohingya refugees, more than 1 million of whom now live in vast camps in Bangladesh.
Two UN agencies on Friday asked the government to "urgently" make "substantial progress" on an agreement signed with the government three months ago to facilitate conditions for Rohingya returns.
The UN Development Programme and UN High Commission on Human Rights said the government still needed to ensure access to the area, clear pathways to citizenship, and tackle the root causes of conflict between Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhine.dpa