On 28 February and 1 March, the ICJ met with senior officials of the Myanmar Police Force (MPF) and the Union Attorney General’s Office (UAGO) in Nay Pyi Taw.
The purpose of these talks was to promote the conduct of effective investigations into potentially unlawful deaths and enforced disappearance in accordance with international human rights law and standards, particularly the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Deaths (“Minnesota Protocol”).
Under customary international law, the right to life, and the right to be free from torture and other ill treatment, is not to be restricted even during an armed conflict or declared public emergency. All States are obliged to investigate, prosecute and punish acts that constitute violations of the right to life, and to provide effective remedies and reparations to victims.
Published by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Minnesota Protocol provides guidance to authorities on investigating acts amounting to human rights violations, including when State actors may have been involved. Drawing upon international law and standards, including in relation to the rights of victims and their families, the Protocol includes detailed guidelines on crime scene investigation, interviews, exhumations and autopsies.
Since December 2017, the ICJ has co-hosted four regional workshops in Thailand focused on this topic. Attendees have included lawyers, academics and State authorities from Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, India and Myanmar.
Frederick Rawski, Director for Asia and the Pacific, Sean Bain, Legal Adviser, and Ja Seng Ing, Legal Researcher, composed the ICJ delegation in Myanmar’s capital.
Frederick Rawski proposed opportunities to continue these discussions on international standards into investigative procedures and processes. The ICJ Team also provided updates about related activities undertaken regionally and in Myanmar.
The ICJ has worked with the UAGO since 2014 to provide assistance on prosecutorial independence and human rights in the context of Myanmar’s broader democratic and legal reforms. This was the third meeting with the MPF over the last twelve months to discuss the conduct of investigations inline with international human rights law and standards.
Members of UAGO and MPF received copies of the Minnesota Protocol and indicated these would be shared with officials involved in the conduct of investigations or in setting the standards for them under national law in Myanmar.