The UN’s new Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar on Wednesday urged the government to cooperate with existing international justice mechanisms to ensure accountability for alleged international crimes.
Thomas Andrews mentioned the International Court of Justice, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar and the International Criminal Court in this regard.
He also questioned whether this year’s elections scheduled for November will be free and fair.
“The people of Myanmar deserve a free and fair election this November,” Andrews told the UN Human Rights Council, “and this includes respect for the right to vote regardless of one’s race, ethnicity or religion, freedom of expression and assembly, and access to information and a free press. It will also require that steps are taken now to assure that those in conflict areas will be able to exercise their rights.”
Political reform began in Myanmar 10 years ago after nearly 50 years of military rule, according to the statement issued from Geneva.
“At issue today is whether that reform will continue,” Andrews said in his statement.
“Will the military, or Tatmadaw, be based on service to the nation – accountable to its people through their duly elected civilian representatives – or will it be beyond the reach of civilian government authority and accountability?”
He voiced particular concern over escalating fighting in Rakhine State, which has displaced even more civilians at a time when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya driven from their homes are still living in refugee and displacement camps and villages, lacking basic rights and unable to move freely.
Andrews said his primary constituents are those whose human rights are under threat or under siege, and also pledged to engage with and listen to the Government of Myanmar on issues of human rights.
He called on the Myanmar military to observe the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire.
The new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar is a former member of the US Congress from Maine.
He has a Washington DC based consulting practice, Andrews Strategic Services.
He has worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and parliamentarians, NGOs and political parties in Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and Yemen. He has been a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network, and has run advocacy NGOs including Win Without War and United to End Genocide.