Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee on Thursday suggested forming an international ad-hoc tribunal, which she thinks, will work as complementary to ongoing efforts on accountability and justice front.
“I’ve been stressing setting up an international ad-hoc tribunal dedicated to the situation in Myanmar,” she said while responding to a UNB question at a press conference at a city hotel noting that more needs to be done despite some significant achievements over the last two years on justice and accountability front.
Prof Lee said she will be providing little more details about setting up tribunal in her report to be submitted to the Human Rights Council session in March next.
Referring to previous such tribunals, Prof Lee said victims can seek justice in another court too which will complement with the other efforts. “It’s going to be complementary; it’s not going to be set up to expedite another process because other processes have their own mandates.”
The UN Special Rapporteur said unfortunately the UN Security Council fails to refer the situation of Myanmar to International Criminal Court (ICC) and efforts “must continue” to put pressure on the UNSC of its failure to do this.
By not referring the situation of Myanmar to the ICC, she said, the UNSC is not really fulfilling its obligations and responsibilities set for the UN charter.
China & Russia
Referring to China and Russia’s role at the Security Council, Prof Lee said she mentioned it many times that it is shameful for those States in the face of credible evidence.
“That’s not fabricated news. That’s not fake news,” she said adding that she is hoping, especially China which attempts to become one of the top global leaders, will play its role.
“You can’t become a global leader without respecting human rights. By respecting human rights, you’ve to seek justice and accountability for all human rights violations,” Prof Lee added.
Asked whether there is any failure to convince China and Russia on the issue, Prof Lee said it is not a matter of failing to convince them (China and Russia) and change their minds but it is the manner the Security Council is set up.
She said five permanent members of the UNSC have a vital power, and things have changed; and in the Security Council, there has to be reform on how they deal serious human rights violations.
Prof Lee hoped that the Myanmar government will follow the decisions and recommendations that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) may make. “And the international community needs to stay seized on this issue and brings this issue in mind so that Myanmar doesn’t evade its own responsibility.”
In a sweeping legal victory for members of the Rohingya Muslim minority, the United Nations' top court on Thursday ordered Myanmar take all measures in its power to prevent genocide against the Rohingya people.
The court's president, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the International Court of Justice "is of the opinion that the Rohingya in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable."
Prof Lee, before the verdict, said this is going to be a historic day but did not want to speculate on the overall outcome.
Disappointment over Denial
Despite her last request to visit Myanmar being denied by the government, Lee visited Thailand and Bangladesh to speak to interlocutors and receive information about the situation in Myanmar from both sides of the border.
Prof Lee said she found a "deep desire" among Rohingyas about their return to their place of origin in Rakhine State.
She expressed frustration over the repeated denial by the Myanmar authorities. "I’m disappointed…I must speak the truth."
“Myanmar’s denial of access has not dissuaded me from doing everything I can to impartially report to the international community accurate firsthand information that has been provided to me during my visits to the region,” Lee said earlier.
She said her mission and the end of her tenure come at a critical time for human rights in Myanmar and she will continue to strive to ‘do her utmost’ to improve the situation.
Asked about her report without visiting Myanmar, Prof Lee said she is absolutely convinced that the report she will submit in March is based on credible facts. “It’ll be non-biased and impartial,” she said adding that it was Myanmar’s loss not giving her access as there were so many ways to engage with individuals living in Myanmar.
Lee has held the mandate of Special Rapporteur since 2014 and enjoyed biannual visits to the country until she was denied entry from December 2017, according to a message received from Geneva.