Rohingya children stand next to a bamboo fence overlooking an expanse of makeshift bamboo & tarp shelters at Kutupalong refugee camp,where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence a year ago.
Dhaka, Aug 27 (UNB) - UN human rights investigators on Monday said Myanmar’s top military leaders should be prosecuted for "genocide" against Rohingyas.
"Unless impunity is addressed, and all ranks within the security forces are held accountable for their past, current and future actions, similar outbreaks of violence and associated atrocity crimes can be expected to continue, with further devastating domestic and regional impact," reads a new UN report.
The UN Security Council should adopt targeted individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against those who appear most responsible for serious crimes under international law, reads the recommendation part of the report.
"It should also impose an arms embargo on Myanmar," according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
It also concluded “There is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw chain of command, so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State.”
A fuller report, containing detailed factual information and legal analysis will be published and presented to the Human Rights Council on 18 September.
It will include a significant amount of satellite imagery analysis.
The call, accompanying a first report by the investigators, amounts to some of the strongest language yet from UN officials who have denounced alleged human rights violations in Myanmar since a bloody crackdown began last August, reports AP.
The three-member "fact-finding mission" working under a mandate from the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council meticulously assembled hundreds of accounts by expatriate Rohingya, satellite footage and other information to assemble the report.
The UN-backed Human Rights Council created the mission six months before a rebel attack on security posts set off the crackdown that drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.
Impunity for gross human rights violations in Rakhine has significantly and demonstrably contributed to the validation of deeply oppressive and discriminatory conduct, enabled recurrence of human rights violations and atrocity crimes, and emboldened perpetrators and silenced victims, says the report.
The present report contains the main findings and recommendations of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.
"Myanmar has a heavy responsibility to remedy the situation as a matter of the utmost urgency, or risk destroying its democratic reform process. The international community also bears responsibility and must take a united stand to both condemn the violations and assist Myanmar in addressing the root causes of its recurrent problems," says the report.
This begins by ensuring that the perpetrators of crimes are held to account, and by giving hope to victims of a future without the fear and insecurity that have characterized their existence.
Justice has remained elusive for victims in Myanmar for decades, with the authorities systematically failing to condemn, investigate and prosecute perpetrators, according to advance copy of the report from UN Human Rights Council prepared for the 39th session to be held on September 10–28.
In the face of the Rakhine crisis, the Myanmar authorities have created ad hoc inquiry commissions and boards.
The Mission has examined eight such efforts since 2012. None meets the standard of an impartial, independent, effective and thorough human rights investigation.
To the Mission’s knowledge, none has led to any prosecution for gross human rights violations and redress for victims.
"The reason is simple: this is not possible in Myanmar," reads the report.
Impunity is deeply entrenched in Myanmar’s political and legal system, effectively placing the Tatmadaw above the law.
The Constitution and other laws provide for immunities and place the Tatmadaw beyond civilian oversight.
While the primary responsibility for investigating and prosecuting crimes under international law lies with the Government of Myanmar, it has demonstrated that it is unable and unwilling.
Accountability would require an overhaul of the entire domestic justice and security sectors.
The Mission has concluded on reasonable grounds that the Government’s recently-created Commission of Inquiry will not and cannot provide a real avenue for accountability, even with some international involvement.
The impetus for accountability must come from the international community.
In its detailed report, the Mission proposes an accountability process that is transformative, victim-centred, comprehensive, and inclusive.
It should contribute to three fundamental shifts: breaking the climate of impunity; ensuring that all State institutions, including the security forces, are answerable to the people; and promoting a concept of the State and Nation of Myanmar that is inclusive, based on equality and respect for the human rights of all, according to the report.
The gross human rights violations and abuses committed in Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States are shocking for their horrifying nature and ubiquity, says the report.
Many of these violations undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law.
They are also shocking because they stem from deep fractures in society and structural problems that have been apparent and unaddressed for decades.
They are shocking for the level of denial, normalcy and impunity.
For nearly three decades, five consecutive Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Myanmar have presented annual reports to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, with detailed recommendations to all stakeholders.
Similarly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has formulated concrete recommendations, as have many international and national civil society organizations.
The Advisory Commission on Rakhine State also presented a detailed report.
The Mission’s detailed report provides comprehensive recommendations.
The report draws particular attention to the following priority areas for action by the international community:
(a) The international community, through the United Nations, should use all diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to assist Myanmar in meeting its responsibility to protect its people from genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
It should take collective action in accordance with the United Nations Charter, as necessary;
(b) The Security Council should ensure accountability for crimes under international law committed in Myanmar, preferably by referring the situation to the International Criminal Court or alternatively by creating an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.
(c) Until the Security Council acts, the General Assembly, or alternatively the Human Rights Council, should create an independent, impartial mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and to prepare files to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings in national, regional or international courts or tribunals;
(d) The Human Rights Council should continue to support the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and ensure they have adequate resources to maintain a strong focus on the human rights crisis in Myanmar;
(e) The Human Rights Council should specifically request OHCHR to focus on ensuring accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar, including by enhanced monitoring, documentation, analysis and public reporting on the human rights situation; raising awareness among civil society and other actors engaged in documenting human rights violations about relevant international standards; working with victim communities to raise awareness about justice options; and supporting comprehensive rule of law and security sector reform in Myanmar in line with international human rights norms and standards. Appropriate resources must be allocated;
(f) The Human Rights Council should establish a second fact-finding mission for a limited period to build on the work undertaken by the Mission, until either one of the mechanisms outlined in (b) or (c) are operational, or the reinforced work of OHCHR set out in (e) is in place;
(g) The United Nations should urgently adopt a common strategy to ensure that all engagement with Myanmar takes into account, and addresses, human rights concerns, in line with the Human Rights Up Front Action Plan.
This should guide all UN engagement in Myanmar, particularly in relation to Rakhine State, and include policies and public advocacy stances.
All United Nations support to Myanmar authorities should undergo a full Human Rights Due Diligence analysis;
(h) As a matter of urgency, there must be a comprehensive, independent inquiry into the United Nation’s involvement in Myanmar since 2011, with a view to establishing whether everything possible to prevent or mitigate the unfolding crises was done; identifying lessons learned and good practice; making recommendations as appropriate, including on accountability; and enabling more effective work in future;
(i) The United Nations and international community must ensure that the repatriation of refugees and return of internally displaced persons only occurs when safe, voluntary and dignified, with explicit human rights protections in place, including citizenship. In the current circumstances, returns are not possible;
(j) All Member States should ensure that engagement with Myanmar, and support for aid, development and reform projects, take into account and address human rights concerns, and explicitly conform to the principles of non-discrimination and equality.
They should ensure that humanitarian organizations working on Myanmar are appropriately funded. States should cease operational support to the Tatmadaw and other security forces until there is (1) demonstrable commitment to genuine reform, (2) international assistance in implementing reform and (3) acceptance of and cooperation with international mechanisms to hold those responsible accountable for crimes under international law;
(k) Regardless of the imposition of an arms embargo by the Security Council, States should not authorize the transfer of arms to Myanmar, considering the overriding risk that they would be used to undermine peace and security and in the commission of serious crimes under international law;
(l) Relevant regional organizations, including the European Union and ASEAN, should develop strategies to ensure accountability for perpetrators of crimes under international law in Myanmar, including through sustained engagement with Myanmar and support for an international justice mechanism;
(m) Member States should exercise jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute alleged perpetrators of serious crimes under international law committed in Myanmar;
(n) The United Nations should establish a trust fund for victim support, through which victims can receive psychosocial support, legal aid, livelihood support, and others means of assistance.
All trust fund projects should be designed in consultations with victims, says the report.