The Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) is proud to publish the below statement drafted by 17 former United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs who have held human rights mandates. CCIJ stands in solidarity with the sentiments and the call to action expressed in this statement concerning the ongoing human rights abuses being committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar.
The mandate of CCIJ is to assist and support survivors of torture, war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities as they seek redress for the human rights abuses they have suffered. CCIJ’s goal is to serve individual survivors in their quest for justice, support survivor communities, and contribute to the global movement to end impunity by sending a strong message that it is no longer possible to escape accountability for planning or carrying out such atrocities.
In the spirit of our mandate, we welcome the statement by 17 former UN Special Rapporteurs, including Canadian jurist Peter Leuprecht, which calls to end the violence against the Rohingya, to ensure that all Rohingya are allowed to return home safely and in dignity, to prevent the statelessness of Rohingya, and to ensure that the perpetrators of these gross human rights violations are held accountable and brought to justice.
Canadian Centre for International Justice
We, the undersigned former mandate holders of the UN Special Procedures, although having completed our UN mandates, cannot shirk our responsibilities towards protecting the human rights of the oppressed. We jointly appeal to the Myanmar Government and more specifically to Nobel Laureate Madame Aung San Suu Kyi to stop the genocide, ethnic cleansing, and arson of Rohingya.
We express our concern that nearly 500,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh, while hundreds have been killed. Of these civilians, women and children account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by this conflict, including as refugees and internally displaced persons, and are increasingly targeted by combatants and armed elements.
Recognizing the consequent impact this has on durable peace and reconciliation, we believe it essential to take into account the particular needs of women and girls in the design of refugee camps and settlements to ensure their safety.
Recalling that Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has been home to many ethnic communities spread across its territories for centuries, we are also deeply concerned that the Rohingya continue to be denied nationality and citizenship rights despite living on their ancestral land. We join our voices with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in underscoring the need to prevent statelessness and to ensure the right of every person to a nationality.
We express, emphatically, that all Rohingya must be allowed to return to their homes voluntarily, in dignity, and with safety guaranteed.
While we appeal to the Myanmar Government to put an end to the clear and systematic genocidal campaign against the Rohingya, we also strongly encourage all heads of States and governments to encourage their counterparts, particularly Myanmar and Bangladesh, to engage in meaningful and constructive exchanges to halt these crimes against humanity.
We also underscore the UN Human Rights Council’s recent statement that the independent international fact-finding mission be allowed to work unhindered so as to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged human rights violations by military and security forces. The call for monitoring should serve as a sobering reminder that justice will have to be established by proper procedures. The time has come for the Security Council to refer this matter to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to ensure that perpetrators of these gross human rights violations are held accountable and brought to justice.
Param Cumaraswamy, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
John Dugard, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Occupied Territories
Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Occupied Territories
Hannu Halinen, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Occupied Territories
Thomas Hammarberg, former Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN for Human Rights in Cambodia
Christof Heyns, former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Sigma Huda, former UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
Paul Hunt, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Enjoyment of Physical and Mental Health
Peter Leuprecht, former Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN for Human Rights in Cambodia
Najat Maalla M’jid, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Rashida Manjoo, former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences
Farida Shaheed, former UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights
Gulnara Shahinian, former UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Including its Causes and its Consequences.
Theo van Boven, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Amos Wako, former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Photo credit: Sanjitbakshi