RNA - The Hague-based tribunal said in a statement on Thursday that the ICC's "pre-trial chamber... decided by majority the court may exercise jurisdiction over the alleged deportations of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh."
A three-judge panel said in a written summary of its decision that “the Court has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people."
"The court may also exercise its jurisdiction with regard to any other crime set out in article 5 of the statute, such as the crimes against humanity of persecution and/or other inhumane acts."
Although Myanmar is not a member of the court, Bangladesh is and the cross-border nature of deportation is enough basis for jurisdiction, the court said.
"The reason is that an element of this crime - the crossing of a border - took place on the territory of a State party (Bangladesh)."
Prosecutors had asked judges for an advisory opinion on whether such actions could fall under the tribunal's jurisdiction. They have not launched any formal case related to alleged deportations from Myanmar.
The ICC's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in April asked judges at the world's only permanent war crimes court to rule whether she can investigate the deportations as a crime against humanity.
She likened the deportations to "a cross-border shooting", arguing that the crime "is not completed until the bullet (fired in one state) strikes and kills the victim (standing in another state)".
The latest decision at the ICC court paves the way for Bensouda to further examine whether there is sufficient evidence to file charges in the case.
The Thursday decision comes just days after UN-mandated investigators said Myanmar’s military had carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state with “genocidal intent”.
According to Press TV, the UN investigation team reported that Myanmar's top generals should face prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine.
The mission has also said the de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi should have resigned over her silence on the campaign of terror.
In June, Human rights group Amnesty International said Myanmar’s top military officials must be tried at the ICC for crimes against humanity over atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the Buddhist-majority country.
Members of the Rohingya Muslim community have been killed, arbitrarily arrested, and raped by Myanmar’s forces and extremist Buddhists, who have also burned and destroyed Rohingya villages in mass arson attacks.
More than 700,000 members of the minority Muslim group have fled the state-sponsored violence to southeast Bangladesh over the past months.
The UN has described the campaign as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing, saying it possibly amounts to genocide as well.
For years, Myanmar's government has refused to allow UN investigators to enter Rakhine and Suu Kyi has virtually done nothing to stop the crimes.