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El caso de jurisdicción universal en Argentina que investiga crímenes contra las personas Rohingya en Myanmar

Crimes Against Humanity
Español
Genocide
Latin America
Myanmar
Rohingya
Palacio de Justicia de la Nación El 26 de noviembre de 2021, la Sala Segunda de la Cámara Federal en lo Criminal de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires inició un caso de jurisdicción universal (JU) contra las autoridades de Myanmar por el genocidio Rohingya, siguiendo una denuncia presentada por la organización Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK, por sus siglas en Inglés) en noviembre de 2019. La denuncia de BROUK alegaba genocidio y crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos en Myanmar por la cúpula militar y civil contra los Rohingyas desde 2012, crímenes que inclyen asesinato, desaparición forzada, tortura, violencia sexual y encarcelamiento. En 2017, el ejército de Myanmar lanzó una campaña genocida que obligó a más de 800,000 Rohingyas a huir, en su mayoría hacia la frontera con Bangladesh. Estas llamadas “operaciones de limpieza” se llevaron a cabo a través de asesinatos generalizados y sistemáticos, violación y violencia sexual, y otros abusos. Las personas Rohingya que continúan viviendo en el estado de Rakhine enfrentan restricciones rigurosas a su libertad de movimiento, así como dificultades para acceder a servicios básicos como la educación y la atención médica. Esta situación se ha agravado aún más después del Ciclón Mocha en mayo de 2023. Además, en febrero de 2021, el ejército desafió los resultados de las elecciones democráticas, llevó a cabo un golpe de estado y se apoderó del poder en Myanmar en una campaña marcada por más atrocidades, incluidas aquellas contra los Rohingyas. Además del caso de jurisdicción universal (JU) presentado por BROUK en Argentina, actualmente existen múltiples esfuerzos internacionales en curso dirigidos a buscar justicia y rendición de cuentas en Myanmar por los crímenes contra los Rohingya. Esto incluye un caso de genocidio ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ) presentado por Gambia (puede encontrar un documento de preguntas y respuestas sobre el caso aquí), así como una investigación realizada por la Corte Penal Internacional (CPI) (puede encontrar un documento de preguntas y respuestas sobre la investigación de la CPI aquí). 1.  ¿Cuál es el principio de la justicia universal? ¿Cómo funciona en Argentina? La justicia universal es un concepto basado en el principio de que algunos crímenes son de preocupación global y son tan horribles que conciernen a la humanidad en su conjunto. Se consideran perjuicios contra la comunidad internacional; en consecuencia, todos los Estados tienen un interés en hacer responsables a los perpetradores. Todos los estados tienen permitido ejercer la jurisdicción universal sobre crímenes reconocidos por el derecho internacional. La jursdicción universal garantiza que, independientemente de dónde se hayan cometido el o los crímenes o la nacionalidad de las víctimas o sospechosos, las personas involucradas puedan ser investigadas y enjuiciadas por los crímenes atroces que han cometido, incluidos crímenes de guerra, crímenes de lesa humanidad, tortura, genocidio y desapariciones forzadas. La responsabilidad principal de investigar estos crímenes recae en el estado en cuyo territorio se cometieron los crímenes. Si esos estados no pueden o no quieren enjuiciar los crímenes, la jurisdicción universal existe como una herramienta adicional en el sistema de justicia penal internacional que permite a otros estados investigar y enjuiciar tales crímenes. La manera en que los estados aplican la jurisdicción universal puede variar. Estas maneras se han clasificado ampliamente en jurisdicción universal “pura” o jurisdicción “condicional”. Los estados que aplican jurisdicción universal condicional requieren que se establezca algún tipo de “vínculo de conexión” antes de que un tribunal nacional pueda iniciar una investigación. Por ejemplo, Alemania sigue lo que se puede clasificar como jurisdicción universal “pura”; es decir, no es necesario demostrar un vínculo entre Alemania y los graves crímenes internacionales cometidos en el extranjero antes de iniciar una investigación o enjuiciamiento. Sin embargo, los fiscales tienen la discreción de decidir si abrir o no un caso en el que no haya conexión con Alemania. Otros países requieren que se establezca algún tipo de conexión con ese país (nacionalidad de la víctima o el perpetrador, o intereses del país) antes de que se pueda iniciar una investigación. En el caso de los tribunales franceses, para ejercer la jurisdicción universal en ciertos crímenes, debe demostrarse que el acusado estaba presente en Francia; o para otros crímenes, los tribunales sólo tendrán jurisdicción si el acusado residía regularmente en Francia cuando se abrió la investigación. España también requiere actualmente algunos “vínculos de conexión”- el sospechoso debe estar presente en España y la víctima debe ser española, o debe existir algún otro vínculo relevante con España-. La ley Argentina consagra el principio de jurisdicción universal “pura”, incluido en el Artículo 118 de la  Constitución, que permite juicios por crímenes de derecho internacional público cometidos fuera de Argentina. Además, el Artículo 5 de la Ley 26, 200/06 otorga expresamente a los tribunales federales jurisdicción penal sobre los crímenes mencionados en el Estatuto de Roma de la CPI, entre otros. El caso de BROUK no es el primer caso en Argentina bajo el principio de jurisdicción universal. Durante finales de los años 70 y principios de los 80, la población Argentina sufrió graves abusos contra los derechos humanos y crímenes de lesa humanidad a manos de las fuerzas militares y de seguridad. Este período de dictadura, conocido como la ‘Guerra Sucia’, estuvo marcado por casos de tortura, asesinato y desapariciones forzadas, entre otros crímenes. Tras condenar a la junta militar en un juicio histórico, y a muchos otros responsables de cometer crímenes atroces durante este período en su propio país, Argentina sigue comprometida y ha sido reconocida internacionalmente por liderar esfuerzos de justicia y rendición de cuentas por crímenes contra la humanidad cometidos en otros lugares del mundo. En años recientes, se han llevado casos en Argentina contra individuos por crímenes cometidos en España durante el régimen de Francisco Franco y por persecución contra el movimiento Falun Gong en China. Recientemente, se presentó un caso ante un tribunal argentino relacionado con el genocidio y crímenes contra la humanidad cometidos contra los Uigures en China. 2.  ¿Cómo puede un tribunal nacional en Argentina enjuiciar crímenes en Myanmar? ¿Cuál es el estado actual del caso? En noviembre de 2019, BROUK, con el apoyo de otras organizaciones de derechos humanos, incluidas las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo y la Fundación Servicio Paz y Justicia, liderado por el destacado Premio Nobel de la Paz Adolfo Perez Esquivel, presentaron un caso bajo la jurisdicción universal ante un tribunal penal Argentino en relación con el genocidio y los crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos contra los Rohingya. En diciembre de 2019, el tribunal rechazó el caso argumentando que los tribunales argentinos no eran el foro apropiado para una investigación de este tipo, considerando que la Oficina del Fiscal (OTP) de la CPI ya estaba investigando los crímenes cometidos contra los Rohingya. BROUK presentó una apelación contra esta decisión, y en agosto de 2021, la Cámara Federal en lo Criminal escuchó el testimonio de mujeres Rohingya que comparecieron de forma remota ante el tribunal para hablar sobre sus experiencias de violencia sexual y de género durante las “operaciones de limpieza” de 2017. En noviembre de 2021, el tribunal decidió iniciar una investigación penal contra los funcionarios militares y civiles de Myanmar. La investigación continúa progresando. En junio de 2023, las personas demandantes principales de BROUK, con el apoyo de Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) organizaron y facilitaron el testimonio directo de sobrevivientes que habían experimentado atrocidades, incluida la violencia sexual. Este testimonio fue histórico y estableció un precedente, ya que permitió a las víctimas del genocidio de 2017 participar directamente en un proceso judicial, además de construir la base de pruebas para los tribunales Argentinos. El tribunal también está considerando el impacto de las redes sociales en la difusión de discursos de odio contra los Rohingya que condujeron a las “operaciones de limpieza”, y ha enviado una solicitud a Facebook para que compartan sus archivos e información. 3.  ¿Qué crímenes específicos se están investigando? ¿Contra quiénes? El caso se refiere a los crímenes perpetrados contra los Rohingya por las autoridades de Myanmar en el estado de Rakhine. Específicamente, el caso solicita que los tribunales Argentinos investiguen y procesen a los altos mandos militares y civiles, así como a los perpetradores directos en Myanmar, por cometer genocidio y crímenes contra la humanidad contra las personas Rohingya en Myanmar. El General Min Aung Hlaing, Comandante en Jefe de las fuerzas armadas (o Tatmadaw), así como los ex presidentes U Htin Kyaw y U Thein Sein se encuentran entre quienes han sido mencionados en la denuncia. 4.  ¿Qué ley está aplicando el tribunal? Si bien el Tribunal deriva su autoridad para abordar el caso (jurisdicción universal) de la Constitución de Argentina (Artículo 118), aplicará el código penal de Argentina al decidir sobre la responsabilidad por los delitos cometidos (homicidio, violación, detención arbitraria, entre otros) y las respectivas penas, si las hubiera. El Tribunal también podría declarar que se cometieron genocidio y crímenes de lesa humanidad, aplicando las definiciones de estos delitos según el Estatuto de Roma, del cual Argentina es parte. 5.  ¿Qué sigue ahora? El caso se encuentra actualmente en la etapa de investigación y el Tribunal está llevando a cabo audiencias y recopilando pruebas, que incluyeron (como se explicó anteriormente) testimonios directos recientes de testigos sobre el genocidio y los crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos contra los rohingyas en el estado de Rakhine. En esta etapa, a medida que el Tribunal continúa realizando audiencias y recopilando pruebas, podría haber también una oportunidad para que el Tribunal analice las pruebas recopiladas hasta ahora y para que los demandantes soliciten que se emita una decisión judicial sustantiva sobre los perpetradores de genocidio y crímenes de lesa humanidad contra las personas Rohingya, así como una solicitud de que se emitan órdenes de detención en su contra. El Tribunal también podría decidir viajar al extranjero para recopilar pruebas sustantivas adicionales. El Mecanismo Independiente de Investigación para Myanmar (IIMM), establecido por las Naciones Unidas (ONU) para recopilar y preservar pruebas sobre violaciones de derechos humanos en Myanmar, también está respaldando al tribunal Aargentino, incluyendo el intercambio de pruebas relevantes. El IIMM no es en sí mismo un órgano de rendición de cuentas, lo que significa que no tiene un tribunal ni un fiscal adjunto. En cambio, los expedientes de casos del IIMM están destinados a contribuir a procesamientos de individuos en procedimientos penales nacionales, regionales o internacionales. El IIMM ha compartido información y pruebas relevantes con la CPI, la CIJ y las autoridades Argentinas en los casos en curso relacionados con Myanmar, siempre y cuando las fuentes de la información hayan dado su aprobación para tal intercambio. En abril de 2022, el jefe del IIMM y miembros de su equipo visitaron Argentina para explorar oportunidades de asistencia en la investigación judicial, especialmente a través del intercambio de información relevante. El IIMM ha compartido información con el Ministerio Público Fiscal de Argentina y mantiene un diálogo constante con el mismo para determinar la manera más efectiva en que puede seguir respaldando el caso de jurisdicción universal. 6.  ¿Tienen los sobrevivientes de Myanmar algún papel en estos procedimientos? BROUK y Tun Khin (Presidente de BROUK), junto con otros representantes de la comunidad Rohingya, actúan como demandantes en el caso. En esa capacidad, tienen el derecho de solicitar al Tribunal que produzca más pruebas, así como de solicitarle que emita decisiones judiciales sustantivas, incluidas reparaciones. BROUK, como organización liderada por Rohingyas, y su equipo legal están llevando a cabo esfuerzos para asegurarse de que las víctimas sean puestas al centro del caso. Estos esfuerzos incluyen garantizar que las personas sobrevivientes puedan interactuar directamente con este Tribunal Argentino y sus procesos, con el objetivo de empoderar y darles voz, especialmente a las mujeres. Esto se refleja en el testimonio directo que testigos proporcionaron a la corte en junio de 2023 sobre violencia sexual y violencia basada en el género. La Corte brindó garantías de seguridad a los testigos, así como apoyo psicológico durante las audiencias (a través de CODESEDH, una ONG especializada), además de abordar con éxito desafíos logísticos que incluyeron la doble traducción del Rohingya al Inglés y luego del Inglés al Español. 7.  ¿Existen otros esfuerzos internacionales para buscar justicia y rendición de cuen- tas por la situación en Myanmar? Existen dos vías principales para la justicia y la rendición de cuentas por los crímenes cometidos contra los Rohingya: (1) la responsabilidad de Myanmar como estado; y (2) la responsabilidad penal individual de aquellos que planearon, participaron o autorizaron los crímenes. Estos esfuerzos son complementarios entre sí. En lo que respecta a la responsabilidad de Myanmar como estado, la demanda de Gambia bajo la Convención para la prevención y la sanción del delito de genocidio sigue en la CIJ. El 22 de julio de 2022, la Corte confirmó la capacidad de Gambia para presentar un caso contra Myanmar por incumplir las disposiciones de la Convención sobre el genocidio. Actualmente, se están completando los escritos de alegatos en el caso antes de que la Corte lo escuche sobre su mérito. Las posibles vías para responsabilizar a las personas incluyen los tribunales nacionales en terceros estados bajo la teoría de la jurisdicción universal, y la CPI. Debido a barreras estructurales y prácticas, los tribunales nacionales de Myanmar no son en este momento una opción para los esfuerzos de rendición de cuentas. La Fiscalía de la CPI está actualmente investigando la situación en Bangladesh/Myanmar. El 14 de noviembre de 2019, la CPI autorizó a la Fiscalía a investigar ciertos presuntos crímenes internacionales ocurridos durante una ola de violencia en el estado de Rakhine en 2016 y 2017. Si bien los actos relevantes para las deportaciones ocurrieron en el territorio de Myanmar, que no es parte del Estatuto de Roma, la Fiscalía argumentó que la CPI “puede ejercer jurisdicción” ya que “un elemento legal esencial del crimen – cruzar una frontera internacional – ocurrió en el territorio de un Estado que es parte del Estatuto de Roma (Bangladesh)”. Al conceder la  autorización, la Corte señaló que el Fiscal no está limitado “a las personas o grupos identificados en la Solicitud” ni “a los incidentes identificados en la Solicitud”. También autorizó al Fiscal a investigar crímenes cometidos “después del 1 de junio de 2010, fecha de entrada en vigor del Estatuto para Bangladesh”, así como crímenes que pudieron haber sido cometidos antes pero continuaron después de esta fecha. La investigación está en curso. También hay otros dos procesos de jurisdicción universal actualmente en curso relacionados con la situación en Myanmar. El primero es un caso presentado en marzo de 2022 por el Myanmar Accountability Project (Proyecto de Responsabilidad de Myanmar) ante la oficina del fiscal en Turquía para responsabilizar a la cúpula militar por su amplio uso de la tortura. El caso ha sido presentado en nombre de las víctimas que fueron torturadas en el centro de interrogación militar Yay Kyi Ai en el municipio de Mingaladon en Yangon. En enero de 2023, se presentó otra denuncia por Fortify Rights y 16 denunciantes de Myanmar ante el Fiscal General Federal de Alemania. La denuncia solicita al Fiscal que inicie un caso en Alemania contra altos generales militares de Myanmar y otros por crímenes atroces, incluidos genocidio, crímenes de guerra y crímenes de lesa humanidad. La denuncia proporciona pruebas detalladas, incluidas entrevistas a más de 1,000 sobrevivientes, y pide al Fiscal que realice una investigación sobre el genocidio Rohingya entre 2016 y 2017, así como sobre los crímenes contra otros civiles desde el golpe de febrero de 2021. Finalmente, en abril de 2023, la Corte Constitucional de Indonesia rechazó un caso para responsabilizar al ejército de Myanmar por crímenes contra las personas Rohingya. Los solicitantes habían argumentado que la limitación en la ley de jurisdicción universal de Indonesia que limitaba los casos a los perpetrados “por un ciudadano indonesio” debería declararse inconstitucional; sin embargo, el Tribunal Constitucional rechazó este argumento y sostuvo que al implementar los derechos humanos, cada tribunal debe priorizar los intereses nacionales según lo determine la Constitución de cada país. Por lo tanto, aunque la Constitución de Indonesia se refiere a “cada persona” al formular sus disposiciones de derechos humanos, el Tribunal sostuvo que esto no crea automáticamente una obligación en Indonesia de proteger los derechos humanos de personas que no son ciudadanos indonesios. 8.  ¿El caso en Argentina no duplica lo que están haciendo estos otros tribunales? Dado que evitar la duplicación de esfuerzos fue una de las principales preocupaciones de los tribunales argentinos antes de proceder con el caso de jurisdicción universal, el poder judicial argentino ha mantenido una comunicación diplomática con la CPI para asegurarse de que su caso de jurisdicción universal complemente, no duplique, la investigación de la CPI en Myanmar. El caso en Argentina tiene un alcance mucho más amplio, ya que abarcará una variedad de crímenes cometidos contra la población Rohingya en Myanmar. Esto contrasta con los esfuerzos emprendidos en la CPI, que se limitan a crímenes que han sido cometidos al menos parcialmente en territorio Bangladesí. Sin una remisión del Consejo de Seguridad, la CPI no puede investigar muchos de los crímenes cometidos por el ejército de Myanmar en el estado de Rakhine, que incluyen asesinato, desapariciones forzadas y violencia sexual, así como genocidio. El caso ante los tribunales argentinos tampoco se superpone con el caso presentado por Gambia ante la CIJ. El caso ante la CIJ trata sobre la responsabilidad estatal, mientras que el tribunal argentino investigará la responsabilidad penal individual de altos mandos militares y civiles, así como de perpetradores directos. Finalmente, por el momento la investigación en Argentina difiere de otros casos recientes de jurisdicción universal en términos de la identidad de las víctimas, así como de la cronología, ubicación y alcance de los crímenes. Además, al ser el primer caso de jurisdicción universal en Myanmar, el caso en Argentina se encuentra en una etapa más avanzada, la de investigación, en comparación con los otros casos. La comunicación regular entre las partes involucradas en estos casos puede contribuir a asegurar que estos y cualquier caso futuro sean complementarios
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Q&A: The Universal Jurisdiction Case Against Myanmar

Crimes Against Humanity
Genocide
Latin America
Myanmar
Rohingya
Download PDF Argentina Court Considers International Crimes Against Rohingya On 26 November, 2021, the Second Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court in Buenos Aires launched a universal jurisdiction (UJ) case against Myanmar authorities for the Rohingya genocide, following a complaint filed by Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) in November 2019. BROUK’s complaint alleged genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Myanmar by the military and civilian leadership against the Rohingya since 2012, including murder, enforced disappearance, torture, sexual violence, and imprisonment. In 2017 the Myanmar military launched a genocidal campaign which forced over 800,000 Rohingyas to flee, largely over the border to Bangladesh. These so-called “clearance operations” were conducted through widespread and systematic murder, rape and sexual violence, and other abuses. Rohingya who continue to live in Rakhine State face stringent restrictions on their freedom of movement as well as on accessing basic services including education and healthcare, a situation that has only been exacerbated in the wake of Cyclone Mocha in May 2023. Additionally, in February 2021 the military defied the results of democratic elections, staged a coup, and seized power in Myanmar in a campaign marked by further atrocities, including against the Rohingya. In addition to BROUK’s UJ case in Argentina, there are currently multiple ongoing international efforts aimed at justice and accountability in Myanmar for crimes against the Rohingya, including a genocide case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) brought by The Gambia (a Q&A about the case can be found here), as well an investigation by the the International Criminal Court (ICC) (a Q&A about the ICC investigation can be found here). 1.  What is the principle of UJ? How does it work in Argentina? Universal jurisdiction is a concept based on the principle that some crimes are of global concern and are so horrific that they concern humanity as a whole. They are seen as harms against the international community; accordingly, all States have an interest in holding perpetrators to account. All states are permitted to exercise universal jurisdiction over crimes under international law. Universal jurisdiction ensures that regardless of where the crime(s) has been committed or the nationality of the victims or suspect(s), concerned individuals can be investigated and prosecuted for the heinous crimes they have committed, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, genocide, and enforced disappearances. The primary responsibility to investigate such crimes lies with the state on whose territory the crimes were committed. If those states are unable or unwilling to prosecute those crimes, universal jurisdiction exists as an additional tool in the international criminal justice system that allows other states to investigate and prosecute such crimes. The manner in which states apply universal jurisdiction may vary. These have broadly been classified into ‘pure’ universal jurisdiction or ‘conditional’ jurisdiction. Conditional universal jurisdiction states require some kind of ‘connecting link’ to be established before a national court can begin investigation. For instance, Germany follows what may be classified as ‘pure’ universal jurisdiction; that is, there is no need to show a connection between Germany and grave international crimes committed abroad before initiating an investigation or prosecution. However, prosecutors have the discretion to decide whether to open a case where there is no connection to Germany. Other countries require some connection to be established with that country (the victim’s or perpetrator’s nationality or the country’s interests) before an investigation can be initiated. For French courts to exercise universal jurisdiction for certain crimes, it must be shown that the accused was present in France; or for other crimes, courts will only have jurisdiction if the accused regularly resided in France when the investigation was opened. Spain also now requires some ‘connecting links’ — the suspect must be present in Spain and the victim must be Spanish, or there be some other relevant link to Spain. Argentinian law enshrines the principle of ‘pure’ universal jurisdiction, including in Article 118 of the Constitution which permits trials for crimes against public international law committed outside Argentina. Further, Article 5 of Law 26, 200/06 explicitly grants federal courts criminal jurisdiction over crimes mentioned in the Rome Statute of the ICC, among others. BROUK’s case is not the first case in Argentina under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Through the late 1970s and early 80s, the Argentinian population suffered grave human rights abuses and crimes against humanity at the hands of the military and security forces. This period of dictatorship that came to be known as the ‘Dirty War’ was marred by instances of torture, murder, and forced disappearances, among other crimes. Having convicted the military junta in a historic trial, and many others who were responsible for committing heinous crimes during this period in their own country, Argentina continues to be committed and has been recognized internationally for leading justice and accountability efforts for crimes against humanity committed elsewhere in the world. In recent years cases have been tried in Argentina against individuals for crimes committed in Spain during the rule of Francisco Franco, and for persecution against the Falun Gong movement in China. Recently a case was filed before an Argentinian court related to the genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Uyghurs in China. 2.  How is a domestic court in Argentina able to prosecute crimes in Myanmar? What is the current status of the case? In November 2019, BROUK, with the support of other human rights organizations including Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Fundación Servicio Paz y Justicia, led by prominent Peace Nobel Prize Adolfo Perez Esquivel, filed a case under universal jurisdiction before an Argentinian criminal court concerning genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya. In December 2019, the court rejected the case holding that Argentinian courts were not the appropriate forum for such an investigation considering that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICC was already looking into crimes committed against the Rohingya. BROUK filed an appeal against this decision, and in August 2021, the Federal Appeals Court heard the testimony of Rohingya women who appeared remotely before the court to speak about their experiences of sexual and gender-based violence during the “clearance operations” of 2017. In November 2021 the Court decided to launch a criminal investigation against Myanmar military and civilian officials. The investigation continues to steadily progress. In June 2023, lead plaintiffs BROUK with the contribution of Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), organized and facilitated the direct testimony of survivors who had experienced atrocities, including sexual violence. This testimony was historic and precedent-setting, not least because it allowed victims of the 2017 genocide to directly participate in a court process, but also by building the evidence base for Argentinian courts. The Court is also considering the impact of social media in disseminating hate speech against Rohingya that led to the clearance operations, and has sent a request to Facebook to share their files and information. 3.  What specific crimes are being investigated? Against whom? The case relates to crimes perpetrated against the Rohingya by Myanmar authorities in Rakhine State. Specifically, the case calls for Argentinian courts to investigate and prosecute the senior military and civilian leadership, as well as direct perpetrators in Myanmar, for committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya in Myanmar. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief, as well as former presidents U Htin Kyaw and U Thein Sein are among those who have been named in the complaint. 4.  What law is the court applying? While the Court derives its authority to deal with the case (universal jurisdiction) from the Constitution of Argentina (Article 118), it will be applying the criminal code of Argentina while deciding on the responsibility for crimes committed (homicide, rape, arbitrary detention, among others) and the subsequent punishments, if any. The Court may also declare that genocide and crimes against humanity were committed, applying the definitions of crimes under the Rome Statute, to which Argentina is a party. 5.  What comes next? The case is currently in the investigatory stage and the Court is in the process of holding hearings and collecting evidence, which included (as explained above) recent direct testimony of witnesses regarding genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya in Rakhine State. At this stage as the Court continues to hold hearings and collect evidence, there may also be an opportunity for the Court to analyze the evidence collected thus far, and for the plaintiffs to request that it deliver a substantive judicial decision regarding the perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya, as well as a request that warrants be issued against them. The Court may also decide to travel overseas to further gather substantive evidence. The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), established by the United Nations (UN) to gather and preserve evidence on human rights violations in Myanmar, is also supporting the Argentinian court including by sharing relevant evidence. The IIMM is not an accountability body in its own right — meaning there is no court or prosecutor attached to it. Rather, the IIMM’s case files are intended to contribute to prosecutions of individuals in national, regional, or international criminal proceedings. The IIMM has shared relevant information and evidence with the ICC, ICJ, and Argentinian authorities in the ongoing cases related to Myanmar, provided that the sources of the information have given their approval to such sharing. In April 2022, the head of the IIMM and members of his team visited Argentina to explore opportunities for assisting the judicial investigation, especially through sharing of relevant information. The IIMM has shared information with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Argentina and maintains regular dialogue with the Office to determine the most effective way in which it can continue supporting the universal jurisdiction case. 6.  Do survivors from Myanmar have any role in these proceedings? BROUK and Tun Khin (BROUK’s President), along with others who represent the Rohingya community, serve as plaintiffs in the case. In that capacity they have the right to request the Court to produce more evidence before it, as well as to request the Court to pronounce substantive judicial decisions, including reparations. BROUK, as a Rohingya-led organization, and their legal team are undertaking efforts to ensure that victims are centered in the case. These efforts include ensuring that survivors are able to engage directly with the Argentinian court and its processes, with the view of empowering and giving voice to them, especially women. This is reflected in the direct testimony that witnesses provided to the court in June 2023 regarding sexual and gender-based violence. The Court provided security guarantees to witnesses as well as psychological support during the hearings (through CODESEDH, a specialized NGO), in addition to successfully addressing logistical challenges that included double translation from Rohingya to English, and then from English to Spanish. 7.  Are there any other international efforts to pursue justice and accountability for the situation in Myanmar? There are two major pathways to justice and accountability for the crimes committed against the Rohingya: (1) Myanmar’s responsibility as a state; and (2) individual criminal responsibility of those who planned, participated in, or sanctioned crimes. These efforts are complementary to each other. Concerning Myanmar’s responsibility as a state, The Gambia’s lawsuit under the Genocide Convention continues at the ICJ. On July 22, 2022, the Court upheld The Gambia’s standing to bring a case against Myanmar for breaching provisions of the Genocide Convention. Currently, written pleadings are being completed in the case before the court hears it on merits. Potential venues for holding individuals to account include domestic courts in third party states under the theory of universal jurisdiction, and the ICC. Due to structural and practical barriers, the domestic courts of Myanmar are not at present an option for accountability efforts. The ICC OTP is currently investigating the situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar. On November 14, 2019, the ICC authorized the OTP to investigate certain alleged international crimes occurring during a wave of violence in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017. While the acts relevant to the deportations occurred on the territory of Myanmar, which is not a party to the Rome Statute, the OTP argued that the ICC “may nonetheless exercise jurisdiction” since “an essential legal element of the crime — crossing an international border — occurred on the territory of a State which is a party to the Rome Statute (Bangladesh).” While granting authorization, the Court noted that the Prosecutor is not restricted “to the persons or groups identified in the Request” or “to the incidents identified in the Request.” It also authorized the Prosecutor to investigate crimes committed “after 1 June 2010, the date of entry into force of the Statute for Bangladesh” and also crimes that may have been committed before but continued after this date. The investigation is currently ongoing. There are also two other universal jurisdiction processes currently ongoing concerning the situation in Myanmar. The first is a case filed in March 2022 by the Myanmar Accountability Project with the prosecutor’s office in Turkey to hold the military leadership accountable for their widespread use of torture. The case has been filed on behalf of victims who were tortured in the Yay Kyi Ai military interrogation center in Yangon’s Mingaladon Township. In January 2023, another complaint was filed by Fortify Rights and 16 complainants from Myanmar before the Federal Public Prosecutor General of Germany. The complaint calls for the Prosecutor to initiate a case in Germany against senior Myanmar military generals and others for atrocity crimes including for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The complaint provides detailed evidence including interviews of more than 1,000 survivors and calls for the Prosecutor to conduct an investigation into the Rohingya genocide between 2016 and 2017, as well as into crimes against other civilians since the coup of February 2021. Finally, in April 2023 the Indonesian Constitutional Court rejected a case to hold the Myanmar military accountable for crimes against the Rohingya. Petitioners had argued that the limitation in Indonesia’s universal jurisdiction law that limited cases to those perpetrated “by an Indonesian citizen” be declared unconstitutional; however, the Constitutional Court rejected this argument and held that in implementing human rights, every court must prioritize national interests as determined by each country’s constitution. Hence, even though the Indonesian Constitution refers to “every person” while formulating its human rights provisions, the Court held that this does not automatically create an obligation on Indonesia to protect the human rights of individuals who are not Indonesian citizens. 8.  Does the Argentina case not duplicate what these other courts are doing? Since avoiding duplication of efforts was one of the main concerns of the Argentinian courts before proceeding with the universal jurisdiction case, the Argentinian judiciary has maintained diplomatic communication with the ICC to ensure that its universal jurisdiction case would complement, not duplicate, the ICC investigation in Myanmar. The case in Argentina is much wider in its scope, since it will cover a range of crimes against the Rohingya in Myanmar. This is in contrast to the efforts undertaken at the ICC, which are limited to crimes which have been committed at least partially in Bangladeshi territory. Absent a Security Council referral, the ICC is unable to investigate many crimes committed by the Myanmar military in Rakhine State, which include murder, enforced disappearances, and sexual violence, as well as genocide. The case before the Argentinian courts also does not overlap with the case filed by The Gambia before the ICJ. The ICJ case deals with state responsibility, while the Argentinian court will be investigating individual criminal responsibility of senior military and civilian leadership and direct perpetrators. Finally, at present the investigation in Argentina differs from other recent UJ cases in terms of the victims’ identity, as well as timing, location, and scope of crimes. In addition, as the first Myanmar UJ case, the Argentina case is at a more advanced stage — investigation — than the others. Regular communication among stakeholders bringing these cases can help to ensure that these and any future cases are complementary.
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Sector statement on queering atrocity prevention

Crimes Against Humanity
Genocide
War Crimes
Queer people’s experience of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes is not new. From the British Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Holocaust, the ongoing anti-gay purges in Chechnya, and legal shifts which persecute members of the LGBTQI+ community and allies, LGBTQI+ communities have been, and still are, deliberately targeted by systematic violence and discrimination. Some of these campaigns can be described as mass atrocity crimes, while others sound the alarm and significantly increase risk for the incidence of mass atrocity crimes against LGBTQI+ communities across the world. And yet understanding of this experience is not well-developed nor widely-discussed. In fact, queer people’s experiences can often be deliberately silenced in policy and research on identity-based violence and mass atrocities – a problem which is further compounded by threats to safety faced by queer populations that can make it dangerous for them to make their experiences and expertise heard and accounted for. As members of the atrocity prevention field, we know that widespread or systematic violent targeting of LGBTQI+ people can often look different from the widespread or systematic violent targeting of ethnic, indigenous, national, religious and racial groups that traditionally dominate the atrocity prevention and response agenda. However, crimes against LGBTQI+ individuals and communities may still meet the conceptual and legal thresholds of mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. We know, too, that the absence of LGBTQI+ professionals and queer analysis from atrocity prevention work normalises and institutionalises pre-existing heteronormative and patriarchal structures. This perpetuates the exclusion of LGBTQI+ communities in – and from – atrocity prevention work. Read the Full Letter
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Q&A: Preliminary Objections in The Gambia v. Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

Genocide
International Court of Justice
Myanmar
Rohingya
On November 11, 2019 the Republic of The Gambia filed suit against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) for violations of the Genocide Convention. This historic lawsuit brings a critical focus to Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for the Rohingya genocide. The Gambia’s case focuses on Myanmar’s security forces’ so-called “clearance operations” in 2016 and 2017 against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. These attacks against Rohingya were massive in scale, ghastly in brutality, and meticulous in coordination. Approximately 800,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in a matter of weeks, with survivors reporting indiscriminate killings, gender-based violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings, and forced displacement. Rape and sexual violence were widespread, pervasive, and often conducted in public, to the extent that the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission (“FFM”) found that sexual violence was a hallmark of the Security Forces’ operations. On January 20, 2021 Myanmar filed preliminary objections in The Gambia v. Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”). The objections challenge The Gambia’s ability to bring its genocide suit against the state of Myanmar. This fact sheet answers fundamental questions about the Preliminary Objections stage of the ICJ case. (Answers to questions about the early stages of the lawsuit, Myanmar’s responsibility for genocide, and its impact on the Rohingya population are here and here.) Download Fact Sheet
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(Updated) Q&A: The Gambia v. Myanmar – Rohingya Genocide at The International Court of Justice

Genocide
International Court of Justice
International Criminal Law
International Human Rights Law
International Humanitarian Law
Myanmar
Rohingya
Sexual Violence
United Nations
On 11 November 2019, the Republic of The Gambia filed suit against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) for violating the Genocide Convention. Two months later at the request of The Gambia, the ICJ ordered the government of Myanmar to take certain actions to protect the Rohingya via “provisional measures” while the case proceeds. This historic lawsuit brings a critical focus to Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for the Rohingya genocide.
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Letter to UN Security Council members regarding Myanmar’s Independent Commission of Enquiry and the Provisional Measures ordered by the International Court of Justice

Genocide
International Court of Justice
Myanmar
Rohingya
Sexual Violence
UN Investigations
UN Security Council
United Nations
The ICOE’s independence and impartiality have been seriously undermined by its reliance on the Office of the President of Myanmar for financial and technical support, as well as by the composition of the Commission itself, which includes at least one official directly implicated in the bulldozing of Rohingya villages damaged during the 2017 crisis in Rakhine State.
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Urgency is Key for Rohingya Repatriation

Genocide
Myanmar
Rohingya
By Nishan Kafle Although the Rohingya of Burma have been subject to unrelenting government persecution for decades, it took an unprecedented form in 2017 when an estimated 530,000 Rohingya were violently driven from their home in Rakhine State in a military campaign that UN experts have called a genocide. South Asia is no stranger to forced migration. Between 1991 and 1993, more than 100,000 Nepali speaking Bhutanese—commonly known as Lhotshampas—were forced out of Bhutan into Eastern Nepal. This was the result of the “One Nation, One People” policy, adopted in the 1980s, which aimed to shield the majority “Druk” Bhutanese identity from any Nepali influences. As a result, a mass exodus ensued with thousands of Bhutanese forced out of their homes into Eastern Nepal. Nepal, already a poor country under a strict monarchy, was ill-equipped to deal with such a great influx of refugees. And so, the Bhutanese were forced to live in squalid conditions under constant discrimination from people with whom they ostensibly shared a language and tradition. Lhotshampas and the Rohingya were both evicted from their countries unlawfully. Xenophobia permeates both these cases, as each were expelled due to their minority or alien status. But the international community can end the similarities there if it learns the lessons of the past in its response to the Rohingya crisis. If it does so, it will realize that the only way forward is a campaign to immediately create the conditions for the voluntary, safe, and dignified repatriation of the Rohingya. In the early 1990s, the liberal world order was at its zenith with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US and other nations welcomed a large number of Bhutanese refugees (over 100,000) from the camps to their countries under ‘third country resettlement’—one of the three durable solutions recommended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This solution would greatly alleviate the plight of the Rohingya, who are currently living in Bangladesh under increasingly deplorable conditions. However, this is now implausible because of the deterioration of said liberal order, with western countries increasingly adopting inward-looking foreign policies regarding refugee accommodation. Local integration, another recommendation of the UNHCR for dealing with refugee crises, is also not viable in the Rohingya case. Why? Because the Bangladeshi government is suppressing assimilation of the Rohingya into Bengali culture. In schools, the Rohingya are taught in English and Burmese, but not in Bengali, as that would ostensibly help in assimilation. The government has also cut internet and phone services as they fear it would lead to the recruitment of militants for the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an armed militant group. Compounding these policies, Bangladesh is among the world’s most densely populated countries and is heavily resource-starved. Regardless, local integration in Bangladesh is not acceptable for the Rohingya, as they wish to return home to Rakhine State. However, they have rejected recent attempts at repatriation — the third durable solution outlined by the UNHCR — brokered by Bangladeshi and Burmese officials. This is not surprising given the lack of change in conditions in Myanmar since their forced displacement. The Rohingya are still not safe, the government has not committed to granting them full civil rights, and the people behind their violent displacement still walk free. So, while repatriation is the only viable solution, it is a pipe dream unless the international community forces Myanmar to create the conditions for the safe, dignified return of the Rohingya. Yet, it is critical to underscore the “time value” of repatriating Rohingya refugees now, as the potential for success may gradually weaken over time. During the Bhutanese refugee crisis in the 1990s, as more than 100,000 Bhutanese languished in refugee camps, Nepal could not garner international support in time, resulting in prolonged, deadly stays in camps. Bhutan declined to take any refugees back, claiming that they were illegal migrants. If the Rohingya are not repatriated safely with full citizenship or given refuge in welcoming countries soon, history could repeat itself—this time in Bangladesh. The consequences of late action on this crisis are vast: statelessness of nearly a million people; untold suffering and deprivation of a whole people in a foreign country, validation of ethnic cleansing; and the reinforcement of impunity for genocide. As time passes, the chances of repatriation of refugees become slimmer and slimmer. There were opportunities to save countless lives and cement the human rights of hundreds of thousands of Bhutanese refugees nearly three decades ago. Some opportunities, if missed, never return.
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Q&A: The Gambia v. Myanmar – Rohingya Genocide at The International Court of Justice

Genocide
International Court of Justice
Myanmar
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, Myanmar. The operations, in particular those that started in August 2017, were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations on a mass scale. Survivors report indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings, and forced displacement. Reports have also shown that security forces were systematically planning for such an operation against the Rohingya even before the purported reason for the violence — retaliation for small scale attacks committed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) — occurred. As a result, an estimated 745,000 people — mostly ethnic Rohingya — were forced to flee to Bangladesh. According to the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM), the treatment of the Rohingya population during the “clearance operations” amounts to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the commission of which evokes specific obligations and responsibility under international law. On November 11, 2019, The Republic of The Gambia filed suit against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) for violating the Genocide Convention. This momentous lawsuit brings a critical focus to Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for genocide and compliments ongoing investigations into individual accountability. This fact sheet answers fundamental questions about the ICJ case, and seeks to clarify available avenues for justice for the crimes committed against the Rohingya population. Download Fact Sheet
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Read Akila Radhakrishnan’s Speech at UNGA74 Side Event on the Rohingya Crisis

Genocide
International Court of Justice
Myanmar
Rohingya
“A Pathway to a Sustainable Solution to the Rohingya Crisis” Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations Text of Prepared Remarks Thank you Simon. And thank you Minister Momen, Minister Tambadou for your leadership. It’s an honor to participate in this event with you both. As Simon mentioned, I am the President of the Global Justice Center, an international human rights organization dedicated to advancing gender equality through the rule of law. We combine legal analysis with strategic advocacy to ensure equal protection of the law for women and girls. My organization has worked in Burma since 2005, largely on issues of justice and accountability, including for military-perpetrated sexual violence against ethnic women. As a result, we are all too familiar with the place we find ourselves in today: seeking to find ways to end to conflict and restore peace, break the cycle of impunity for horrific crimes perpetrated by the military against an ethnic minority, and a find path forward to true democratic transition in Burma. And it’s this cyclical pattern of human rights abuses that informs my remarks today. Because if we are to truly find sustainable solutions to this crisis, our efforts, including around justice and accountability, must seek not only to address the immediate issues at hand, but also the structures and policies that allow the Burmese government and military to engage in systematic persecution and rampant human rights violations without consequences. And because my time is brief, I am going to focus on three key issues related to justice and accountability. First, there must be a robust gender perspective at the heart of these efforts. Gender has consistently played a central role in the design and commission of the atrocities committed by the Tatmadaw against ethnic groups in Burma. The military has long used rape as a weapon of war and oppression in its conflicts with ethnic groups, and in the clearance operations in Rakhine state, Rohingya women and girls were targeted for particularly brutal manners of killing, rape and sexual violence, and torture. Rape and sexual violence were widespread, pervasive, and often conducted in public. Many women reported being gang-raped, some by as many as eight perpetrators. 80% of the rapes documented by the FFM were gang rapes. These rapes were accompanied by other acts of violence, humiliation, and cruelty. However, gendered crimes and consequences were not limited to acts of sexual violence and rape. For example, Rohingya women and girls were often murdered by being burned alive or butchered with knives used for slaughtering animals—methods of killing that mirror the destruction of objects and property, demonstrating the Security Forces’ misogyny and deeply gendered conceptions of power. It is precisely these acts that led the Myanmar FFM to conclude that sexual and gender-based violence was a hallmark of the Tatmadaw’s operations against the Rohingya, and demonstrates the military’s genocidal intent. There can be no true justice for the genocide of the Rohingya if acts of sexual and gender-based violence are not at the center of all accountability proceedings. Second, justice and accountability are essential preconditions for resolution of the Rohingya crisis. Changing the Burmese government’s behavior to ensure the safe return of the Rohingya, dismantle the discriminatory laws and policies that justify and permit their persecution, and break the culture of impunity that pervades the country will require a multifaceted and concerted approach, engaging multiple forms of accountability, both of individuals and the state. Looking first at individual criminal accountability, as those of us working on Burma have known for years, and as the FFM has emphasized, without significant structural reform, including to the Constitution, domestic accountability is not possible. This means that the international community must step up to enable processes that will hold criminally accountable those who–whether civilian or military–planned, participated in, or sanctioned crimes against the Rohingya. The efforts of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open an investigation into the cross-border crimes that occurred between Burma and Bangladesh, and the establishment of the IIM are important steps in ensuring individual criminal accountability. However, both efforts are quite limited. Under its limited (and untested) jurisdictional theory, a range of crimes that occurred to the Rohingya, including killings and acts of sexual violence that occurred fully on the territory of Burma, would be excluded from the ICC efforts. Furthermore, while the Prosecutor has not closed off the possibility of pursuing genocide charges, it is likely that the prosecutions will be limited to the crimes against humanity of deportation, other inhumane acts, and persecution. The IIM on the other hand, charged with building case files, faces a more fundamental limitation – it needs courts to be available in order to actually render justice. At present, the ICC, which has its own processes and structures for case building, is the only available court. This means that the international community must do more to open up criminal accountability pathways. This could include a full referral to the ICC by the Security Council, the creation of an ad-hoc tribunal for Myanmar, and the opening of cases under the theory of universal jurisdiction by third states. And while individual criminal accountability is important, it is not enough. The lack of true consequences from the international community to the state of Burma has allowed it to continue unabated in its discriminatory treatment of the Rohingya. Emboldened by the knowledge that political and financial interests continue to insulate them from meaningful consequences, Burmese authorities have variously denied any wrongdoing, ignored the problem, and failed to conduct genuine investigations, issue sanctions or hold perpetrators of these crimes to account. As the minister said, “business as usual.” This is why it is essential to also engage Burma’s responsibility as a state under international law. However, to date, little to no action has been taken by the international community on this avenue. And here I would really like to commend The Gambia’s commitment to taking Burma to the International Court of Justice for violations of the Genocide Convention as the first truly meaningful step towards state accountability. The filing of a case with the ICJ will send a strong and powerful signal to the Burmese government that the international community will no longer tolerate its actions and seeks to hold it to account. In addition, a case at the ICJ through the issuance of provisional measures would have an immediate impact, including on the destruction of evidence by Myanmar and repatriation efforts. Furthermore, its merits could provide various forms of remedy and imperatives to punish, including much-needed legislative reform. Needless to say, gender must inform such proceedings. Other states must follow The Gambia’s lead in pursuing state accountability. Finally, I want to conclude by urging us all to take a step back and reexamine what we mean by justice and for whom. The persecution of the Rohingya also comes against the backdrop of the long history of violence, systematic discrimination, and policies of exclusion and marginalization by Burma’s military against all of Burma’s ethnic minorities. Violence in Rakhine State has occurred alongside continued conflict between Burma’s military and various armed ethnic groups and escalating violence in Shan and Kachin States, and most recently, Karen state. Despite the “transition” to a civilian government and democracy, no one in Burma, whether Rohingya or belonging to another ethnic minority, former political prisoners or others who were subject to human rights abuses by the military junta have seen any form of justice. As a result, a Burma where the Rohingya are able to safely return and live freely, is also a Burma where conflicts with all ethnic groups are ended, where all those who have suffered at the hands of the military have seen justice, and where the structures that prop up military domination and control, including the Constitution and discriminatory laws have been dismantled. This means that a sustainable solution to the Rohingya requires addressing the broader context in which this crisis is situated. While there is no doubt that finding solutions to the dire humanitarian crisis faced by the Rohingya, including repatriation, must be a priority, it cannot be the singular focus of the international community. Accountability at the individual and particularly the state level must be a priority. Otherwise, we risk falling right back into the same trap we fell into over the last 10 years in believing that restoring democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi to power would solve all of the problems that faced Burma.
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