Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted government is gathering evidence that it hopes Myanmar’s military junta will be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
As General Min Aung Hlaing’s regime escalates its allegations of assassinations and arrests of opponents, the Committee representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, formed by deputies of the ousted leader’s National League for Democracy, has retained the services of a London law firm to advise him on international legal proceedings.
Volterra Fietta has experience representing clients before international courts and tribunals, including the United Nations International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The law firm also held online meetings with the Independent Investigation Mechanism for Myanmar, which was set up by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 after the violent expulsion from the army Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine State in the west of the country. He also shared reports of alleged atrocities with UN investigators, according to a senior partner and the UN itself.
“Myanmar has asked us to make various communications and submissions to a number of UN human rights bodies and special rapporteurs,” Robert Volterra, the company’s founding partner, told Financial Times. He said this included reports and evidence of “arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings”.
Nicholas Koumjian, head of IIMM, confirmed that Volterra’s company had contacted his office.
“International justice is unfortunately very slow, but it has a long memory,” said Koumjian, a US prosecutor. He previously worked on seven international tribunals to hear war crimes and crimes against humanity charges, including trials of Charles Taylor, the former Liberian and Cambodian president Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.
The decision of the CRPH, which is search for international recognition as Myanmar’s legitimate government, sharing information with UN investigators came as civilians shared bloody footage of atrocities committed by security forces.
According to a conservative current estimate by the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, a human rights group, 726 people were killed by the junta and more than 3,000 arrested since. the Coup d’Etat February 1.
Last month, the IIMM asked people to share evidence of arbitrary arrests, torture and enforced disappearances, but urged them to be “very careful” in using secure communications. Koumjian said the UN has received tens of thousands of videos and other evidence and is analyzing them.
Volterra said his law firm and Sasa, the CRPH’s international envoy, had also been “inundated with communications,” adding: “Most of them are deeply upsetting and incredibly horrific to watch.”
Lawyers hope the junta leaders will eventually be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. The ICJ hears a genocide case against Myanmar brought in 2019 by The Gambia for atrocities against the Rohingya.
“There is no doubt that these crimes which have been committed since the coup should be investigated,” said Kingsley Abbott of the International Commission of Jurists, a human rights group. man.
“At first glance, they meet the requirements of crimes against humanity – a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population in accordance with state policy – that is the threshold below the [International Criminal Court’s] Rome Statute. ”
However, a potential ICC prosecution would face “formidable obstacles,” Abbott said. Myanmar does not belong to the court and should either go to court or be referred to the court by the UN Security Council, of which China and Russia are members. Neither Moscow nor Beijing condemned the coup.
Another option would be an international justice case brought against Myanmar elsewhere under universal jurisdiction, in which serious international crimes can be prosecuted regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators or the location where the crimes were committed.
Volterra declined to comment on its legal strategy.
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