The ICJ welcomes the final report of the FFM (Independent International Fact Finding Mission).
Having monitored justice and human rights in Myanmar for over 50 years, the ICJ has an established presence in the country, and supports justice sector actors to implement reforms necessary to protect human rights through the rule of law.
With this experience, the ICJ concurs with conclusions of the FFM and the Special Rapporteur: particularly those highlighting the pervasive damage of unchecked military power and impunity on human rights, the rule of law, and development of an inclusive democratic society.
Myanmar’s Government has failed to fulfill international law obligations to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of rights violations. In this context, the launch of an IIMM (Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar) is necessary, and welcome. Myanmar should cooperate with the Mechanism, whose files may enable future prosecutions of individual criminals.
But this Mechanism is not a court: all States, particularly Myanmar, must work toward holding criminal trials, in competent jurisdictions, inline with international standards – noting that prosecutions target criminals, not the country.
Other immediate opportunities for Myanmar to protect human rights include: amending the National Human Rights Commission Law to expand its mandate and independence; amending laws that facilitate impunity such as the 1959 Defence Services Act; enacting an anti-discrimination law; and reviewing the 1982 Citizenship Law. These legislative reforms are urgent and possible steps that are necessary to demonstrate if the Government is genuine about its international law obligations. Any constitutional reform must also expand rights protections.
As the FFM’s mandate is ending, the ICJ would like to ask the experts: how can States best monitor and implement your recommendations, particularly related to international criminal accountability?
Terms of Reference for the UN Independent International Mechanism for Myanmar (unofficial Burmese translation), 16 January 2019, available here.
Statement to the Human Rights Council by Mr. Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (unofficial Burmese translation with accompanying English text), 9 September, available here.Advocacy