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Myanmar shows ‘no real interest in building democracy’

UN expert: Myanmar government shows ‘no real interest in building democracy’

NEW YORK (24 October 2018) – The UN’s human rights expert on Myanmar said she was dismayed by the failure of the country’s leadership to take the path of democracy, and at their persistent denials and attempts to deflect attention concerning allegations of atrocities committed against the Rohingya.

“What I see is a Government that is increasingly demonstrating that it has no real interest and capacity in establishing a fully-functioning democracy where all its people equally enjoy all their rights and freedoms,” Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, told the UN General Assembly in New York.

“It is not doing what is necessary to bring about true peace and reconciliation. It is not upholding justice and the rule of law. And, despite the repeated refrain that if presented with evidence, the Government will investigate allegations of human rights violations, it is clear to me that that is not the case.”

Lee acknowledged there was “a glimmer of hope on the horizon for justice for the people of Myanmar”, referring to the Human Rights Council’s recent resolution that establishes a new Independent Mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011.

However, she said the establishment of the Independent Mechanism was an interim step, and was insufficient to achieve justice for all victims of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Myanmar. The international community must continue to work to ensure that individuals who have been alleged as being responsible for serious crimes are prosecuted by the International Criminal Court or by a credible judicial body.

“The Security Council must come together and refer the situation of Myanmar to the ICC without any delay,” she said, adding that the Myanmar Government has shown that it is unable to fulfil its international obligations to impartially and effectively investigate the allegations.

Lee noted reports of harassment and extortion, and of forced labour, and that the Government was undertaking an unrelenting campaign to force all Rohingya to take National Verification Cards. She raised concerns about the situation in Kachin and Shan, and the Government’s plan to close displacement camps around the country. “Disturbing information I have received about the Government’s camp closure plan demonstrates that it is not in accordance with international standards”, Lee said.

Lee urged Member States to provide the Independent Mechanism with adequate resources and to ensure it is fully operational as soon as possible.

ENDS

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