Press Releases

Myanmar “Independent” Commission on Rohingya Violence Submits Final Report

Report Confirms Human Rights Experts’ Charges that Commission Won’t Provide Real Accountability

NEW YORK – The Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), established by the Government of Myanmar to investigate human rights abuses in Rakhine State, submitted its final report to Myanmar’s government today. The full report is not yet public and its submission comes days before an International Court of Justice ruling that could impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar.

The report acknowledged some human rights abuses occurred in the context of what it deemed an “internal armed conflict,” but found no evidence of genocidal intent, contradicting independent United Nations investigations and numerous human rights organizations. The Commission also asserts that its full report and annexes can be used as the basis for domestic investigations, including by the military justice system as a venue for accountability, despite the military’s history of protecting soldiers who carried out human rights abuses and the significant flaws of the system. The report also seemingly fails, like the Government of Myanmar, to use the term “Rohingya” which continues to deny the identity of the group.

“All signs point to what human rights experts and Rohingya themselves already know, which is that the government has no intention of bringing perpetrators of mass rape and other genocidal crimes to justice,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “This Commission is just yet another domestic attempt to deflect responsibility and whitewash the situation of the Rohingya.”

The ICOE was established in June 2018 to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Rakhine state. The Commission said from the outset it would not seek to hold anyone accountable and it was formed to “respond to false allegations made by UN agencies.” This bias, as well as a lack of transparency around the Commission’s methods, led the United Nations Independent International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar to conclude last year that the commission “does not constitute an effective independent investigations mechanism.”

“The UN Fact-Finding Mission was right when it said accountability must come from the international community,” said Radhakrishnan. “We must continue to support ongoing efforts seeking true accountability for the crimes against the Rohingya, including The Gambia’s case at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court’s current investigation.” 

Aung San Suu Kyi Delivers Opening Arguments in Genocide Case at World Court

THE HAGUE – Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivered opening arguments today at the International Court of Justice in the genocide case against Myanmar filed by The Gambia. 

Suu Kyi and Myanmar are responding to The Gambia’s request for provisional measures, which would impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar. For more on these measures, please see our Q&A.

Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan issued the following statement:

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s picture of an internal military conflict with no genocidal intent against the Rohingya is completely false. Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians. The government has discriminated against the Rohingya for decades. This is genocide and it’s precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent.”

Hearings Begin in Genocide Case Against Myanmar at World Court

THE HAGUE – The International Court of Justice is holding its first hearing today in the case filed by The Gambia against Myanmar for the genocide of the Rohingya. 

The Gambia will deliver arguments on their request for provisional measures, which would impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar. For more on these measures, please see our Q&A.

Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan issued the following statement:

"The international community is many years too late on taking action in Myanmar, but this case represents the first hope in decades for the Rohingya and other persecuted ethnic groups in the country. Indiscriminate killings, widespread rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and torture have been everyday reality in Myanmar for far too long. The court has an opportunity with this case to help end it all."

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will open Myanmar’s arguments before the court tomorrow. 

The Gambia Files Lawsuit Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

NEW YORK — Today the government of the Republic of Gambia filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention. This historic lawsuit seeks to ensure Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for the genocide committed against the Rohingya.

Starting in October 2016 and then again in August 2017, Myanmar’s security forces engaged in so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State. The operations were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations that, according to UN investigations, amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. Survivors reported indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and torture. Since August 2017 more than 745,000 ethnic Rohingya civilians have been forcibly displaced from Myanmar, with nearly 400 Rohingya villages attacked and burned.

The clearance operations followed decades of systematic persecution of the Rohingya by the government. Over the course of decades, Myanmar has rendered most its Rohingya population stateless through discriminatory laws, and placed severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, fundamental religious freedom as well as reproductive and marital rights.

In September, the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) concluded in its final report that “the State of Myanmar breached its obligation not to commit genocide” and welcomed efforts to ensure accountability, including at the ICJ.

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and rules on disputes between states and other questions of international law. Article IX of the Genocide Convention provides that any disputes relating to the “interpretation, application or fulfillment” of the Convention, including “the responsibility of a State for genocide,” can be brought to the ICJ. For more information on the ICJ process, see “Q&A: The Gambia v. Myanmar, Rohingya Genocide at The International Court of Justice.”

As a party to the Genocide Convention, The Gambia refused to stay silent in the face of genocide and today took an important step in filing a case against Myanmar at the ICJ. As part of its filing, The Gambia requested the ICJ to issue provisional measures which, if granted, could impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar.

“We commend The Gambia for upholding its international responsibility to punish genocide,” said Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “The international community failed to prevent a genocide in Myanmar, but it is not too late to hold the State of Myanmar accountable for its crimes.”

"The Gambia’s lawsuit is a landmark moment for the global rule of law and for the victims of some of the most severe human rights abuses in recent memory,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center. “We must also remember that gender played a central role in this genocide and we hope this perspective will be at the heart of this critical effort to hold the state of Myanmar accountable for its atrocities.”

MEDIA CONTACT:
Thomas Dresslar, Global Justice Center, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +1 212-725-6530 x217
Sarah Hunter, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +1 917-242-8099

UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Documents Genocide and Calls for International Justice in Final Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK — Today the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released its final report, summarizing its investigation into what it called “the gravest crimes under international law” committed against vulnerable populations in the country, including the Rohingya. The report explicitly calls for international legal accountability for violations of the Genocide Convention.

Established in 2017, the mission has thoroughly documented genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes carried out by the military and security forces in Myanmar and has consistently called on the international community to act. To that end, the final report applauded efforts by UN Member States such as The Gambia, who are potentially pursuing a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in line with their obligations under the Genocide Convention.

“The Fact-Finding Mission has been a tremendous advocate for international accountability in Myanmar, which remains the only true path to justice for victims of gross human rights violations, including genocide,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “As its mandate ends, it is essential that the international community take the mission’s recommendations seriously and take urgent action to break the culture of impunity in Myanmar.”

The Global Justice Center and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect met with Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubaccar M. Tambadou, and other senior officials in The Gambia earlier this month to discuss efforts to hold Myanmar accountable under the Genocide Convention. For more information on how an ICJ case might proceed, see this Q&A.

“We thank the Fact-Finding Mission for its crucial work and commend The Gambia for seeking to uphold its international responsibility to punish genocide,” said Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “In 2017 the international community failed to prevent a genocide in Myanmar. But it is not too late to protect the Rohingya from further persecution and ensure that the perpetrators of these atrocities face international justice.”

“This week, world leaders will come together in New York for the start of the United Nations General Assembly. Action on Myanmar — whether sanctions, a referral to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council, or the creation of an ad-hoc tribunal — must be a priority," said Radhakrishnan.