UNSC urged to refer Myanmar to International Criminal Court


NEW YORK, Nov 4 (APP):A prominent international human rights watchdog body has urged the United Nations Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because of the Southeast country’s failure to investigate mass atrocities against ethnic Rohingya.
UN member countries should also pursue processes for gathering criminal evidence to advance prosecutions in the ICC and other courts, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Myanmar authorities have failed to credibly investigate security force operations since late August 2017 that have resulted in mass arson, killing, and looting, destroying hundreds of villages and forcing more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, it said.
“Justice is desperately needed for the Rohingya population targeted by the Burmese (Myanmar) military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing,” Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director, said.
“The UN Security Council should refer the situation in Burma to the ICC, which was created precisely to address situations in which grave crimes were committed without consequences.”
The Myanmar government’s support both for the military operations against the Rohingya and its repeated discounting and dismissal of alleged abuses make it extremely unlikely that the government will press for the credible investigation and prosecution of crimes against humanity, HRW said. Historically, courts in Myanmar have tried soldiers for human rights violations only infrequently and have never held soldiers to account for war crimes. Civilian courts have rarely had jurisdiction over soldiers implicated in criminal offenses.
In April, the UN Human Rights Council created a Fact-Finding Mission for Myanmar because of credible and serious allegations of human rights abuses. While the Fact-Finding Mission will document patterns of abuse, it does not have the mandate to investigate abuses to a criminal standard, though its findings could be used in eventual prosecutions.
The ICC is a court of last resort and only acts when there are grave crimes and national authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute and try those responsible. But the ICC only has jurisdiction over crimes committed by states parties to its founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and Myanmar is not a member. Only the UN Security Council can refer the situation to the ICC for further criminal investigation.
“UN member countries should explore concrete measures to build criminal files against those responsible for major crimes in Burma (Myanmar) for eventual prosecution,” Singh said.
“Identifying perpetrators can help raise the political cost of abusive military operations, and bring victims closer to the justice they deserve.