‘No peace in Myanmar if no military prosecuted’

25 August, 2019 12:00 AM printer

UNITED NATIONS: There will be no long-term peace in Myanamar and no return of Rohingya refugees unless there is accountability for the “brutality” of the Asian country’s military forces, a member of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said Friday, reports AP.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, a Sri Lankan lawyer who is one of the mission’s three international experts, told an informal Security Council meeting on accountability in Myanmar that the commission believes a domestic judicial process is not possible at this time.

“There’s danger to the victims and witnesses, as they have been threatened, and we feel that the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Myanmar government may face the same challenge,” she said.

Coomaraswamy pointed to seven soldiers who were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison with hard labor for the killings of 10 Rohingya villagers but then were released after just nine months “because of the national and political pressure.” The arrests followed an investigation by two Reuters journalists who were imprisoned for their reporting on the killings.

“Pressure by military and political forces will not only frighten away witnesses, but they will not allow a domestic and, we think even at this time, a hybrid form of accountability to take place,” she said. “We therefore need an international mechanism or process.”

Coomaraswamy cited a number of options: having the Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court, establishing an ad-hoc tribunal on Myanmar, or having countries with universal jurisdiction use it to deal with the plight of the Rohingya Muslims who fled military crackdowns to Bangladesh.

In parallel, she said, through the Genocide Convention a demand can be made to the International Court of Justice for compensation and reparations to the Rohingya.