Republic of the Union of Myanmar
National Unity Government
Ministry of Human Rights
UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
ITEM 2 – Interactive dialogue on the report of Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar
13 September 2022
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar welcomes the interactive dialogue with the Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), Mr. Nicholas Koumjian, as well as the IIMM’s recent report to the Human Rights Council.
Mr. Koumjian’s remarks capture the situation in Myanmar well: as the illegal military junta intensifies its atrocity crimes against civilians, the “people of Myanmar continue to suffer because of the lack of accountability for those who believe they answer to no law.”
Myanmar strongly supports the IIMM’s deepening investigations into the military atrocities directed against the Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017. As Mr. Koumjian reports, five years later, significant numbers of Rohingya remain in neighbouring countries “awaiting the day when conditions will allow their safe and dignified return home.”
Myanmar also supports the IIMM’s efforts to make the collection and preservation of evidence of junta crimes a ‘major focus’. According to the Mechanism, there are ‘ample indications’ that:
crimes have been committed in Myanmar on a scale and in a manner that constitutes a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population. The available evidence suggests that the crimes against humanity of murder; torture; deportation and forcible transfer; rape and other forms of sexual violence; persecution; and imprisonment have been committed.
The IIMM’s report also documents junta war crimes that include:
intentional attacks directed against the civilian population as such, or against civilians not taking part in hostilities; violence to life against persons taking no active part in hostilities; rape; cruel treatment and torture; the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court; and ordering the displacement of the civilian population.’
Furthermore, the Mechanism has ‘collected substantial evidence in respect of the widespread burning of villages and towns, and of targeted or indiscriminate killing of civilians.’
After three years of operation, the IIMM’s repository of materials now includes close to three million information items, including ‘interview statements, documentation, videos, photographs, geospatial imagery and social media material’.
In support of prosecutions, the Mechanism says that it has prepared 67 evidential and analytical packages for judicial authorities. It is also cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Gambia v. Myanmar case under the Genocide Convention, and with judicial authorities in Argentina on an active investigation into military atrocities against the Rohingya.
Yet despite the IIMM’s efforts, the junta’s continued impunity sustains its atrocities and denies victims, including the displaced, access to justice and reparations. As Mr. Koumjian concedes when discussing the Rohingya’s safe and dignified return home, “[t]he end of impunity for those who inflicted the violence would do much to create such conditions.”
Myanmar, as represented by the National Unity Government, will continue to cooperate with the IIMM by sharing information and identifying witnesses who can provide testimony in safe and secure ways that minimise retraumatisation. The National Unity Government and its partner ethnic organisations will also explore IIMM access to Myanmar territory, including to facilitate on the ground investigations.
Further, Myanmar will strengthen its cooperation with the ICC and the ICJ in support of international accountability, and with UN Member States exercising universal jurisdiction in their domestic courts.
The IIMM’s report is yet another wake up call in the face appalling inaction by the international community to stop junta atrocities, to punish perpetrators, and to deliver justice to victims and survivors. If international accountability continues to prove elusive, including due to UN Security Council deadlock, then UN Member States must explore the creation of an ad hoc tribunal or jurisdiction to try perpetrators and to put the IIMM’s evidence to tangible use. As Mr. Koumjian has pressed, “the cooperation and support of other Member States will be a decisive factor in the success of the Mechanism’s efforts.”