Myanmar: Report urges international action on accountability for crimes

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Rohingya flee from Myanmar - File photograph

Bangkok, Dhaka, Paris – The international community must pursue all available avenues to ensure that perpetrators of crimes in Myanmar are held accountable and victims receive justice, FIDH and its member organisations Altsean-Burma and Odhikar said in a report released on 17 September.

The report, titled “No stone unturned – Q&A on accountability for crimes in Myanmar”, provides answers to the most pressing questions concerning the issue of accountability for crimes in Myanmar. The report seeks to help understand the intricacies of international justice mechanisms and how they can be applied to the situation in Myanmar.

“The findings of the UN independent investigators are clear and unequivocal: international crimes have been committed by Myanmar security forces. It is now incumbent on the international community to vigorously support the necessary processes to ensure the end of impunity for crimes in Myanmar and the delivery of justice to the victims,” said FIDH secretary-general and Altsean-Burma coordinator Debbie Stothard.

The 27 August release of a report by a United Nations (UN)-mandated independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar marked a pivotal moment in the establishment of the facts concerning crimes committed in recent years in Myanmar’s Rakhine, Shan, and Kachin states. Overwhelming evidence collected by the mission points to the commission of “the gravest crimes” against civilians by Myanmar security forces.

It is now of crucial importance that the process of ensuring accountability for these crimes moves forward through the pursuit of the following key steps:

  • consolidating evidence
  • carrying out prosecutions and
  • supporting any established national or international accountability mechanisms and enabling them to deliver justice to the victims.
READ MORE:  ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’

These three steps must be pursued without delay through simultaneous actions taken by three key UN bodies, namely, the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly, and the Security Council, as well as by the international community as a whole.

The Human Rights Council and the General Assembly should promptly set up an international, impartial and independent mechanism. The mechanism is a dedicated body responsible for collecting, preserving, and analysing evidence that will be used by prosecutors in national and international tribunals that may assert their jurisdiction over crimes committed in Myanmar.

At the same time, the Security Council should refer the situation of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court and commit to providing concrete support to and cooperation with the court. This is to ensure that prosecutions are carried out without delay in relation to all crimes within the court’s jurisdiction and in all parts of the country.

In addition, the international community should also fully support the possible International Criminal Court investigations and prosecutions following its decision on 6 September 2018. Pre-trial judges ruled that the court may exercise its jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh and other international crimes, provided part of these crimes occurred on the territory of Bangladesh, a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Lastly, states that recognise the principle of extraterritorial jurisdiction and in which the legal system allows its implementation, national authorities should open investigations and initiate prosecutions of Myanmar individuals accused of committing international crimes in Myanmar.

READ MORE:  Myanmar’s Rohingya persecuted, living under threat of genocide, UN experts say

“Myanmar’s military must not get away with its genocidal campaign against the Rohingya. The international community must act without delay and leave no stone unturned in support of accountability for the gravest crimes committed in Myanmar,” said FIDH vice-president and Odhikar secretary Adilur Rahman Khan.

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