Factual and Legal Basis for Prosecution of Myanmar Minister of Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Population, Lt.-Gen. Ko Ko Pursuant to The Swiss Criminal Code and The Convention Against Torture
This Swiss criminal complaint against Lieutenant-General (“Lt.-Gen.”) Ko Ko, Myanmar’s Minister of Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Population, was prepared in connection with his leadership of Myanmar’s committee to its Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) at the United Nations Human Rights Council (“HRC”) in Geneva on November 6, 2015.
According to this indictment, Lt.-Gen. Ko Ko bears command responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture committed by his subordinates that he failed to prevent or punish. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which is incorporated into Swiss law, Lt.- Gen. Ko Ko can be tried in a Swiss court for these international crimes.
For purposes of this trip to Geneva, Lt.-Gen. Ko Ko enjoys immunity under the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. However, the indictment can be used as the basis for additional indictments should he travel outside of Myanmar for other purposes when immunity may not apply.
Evidence against Lt.-Gen. Ko Ko has been available for years, but the Government of Myanmar has ignored his complicity in war crimes; instead, he has been rewarded with appointments as Minister of Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Population, and was selected to head Myanmar’s UPR committee. As Minister of Home Affairs, he has exercised authority over police forces that have repeatedly used excessive force and violence against peaceful protesters, continuing a pattern of disregard for human rights.
Since the transition to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, Myanmar has declared its commitment to establishing democracy, respecting human rights, and adhering to the rule of law. However, true progress is impossible while those responsible for heinous crimes remain in power, sheltered from accountability.
Because the civilian government can’t – or won’t – take action, the international community must ensure that justice is served by holding Lt.-Gen. Ko Ko accountable under international law.