President of Human Rights Council appoints Members of Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar

May 30th, 2017  •  Author:   United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner  •  5 minute read

Geneva, 30 May 2017 — The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli (El Salvador), announced today the appointment of Ms. Indira Jaising (India), Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka) and Mr. Christopher Dominic Sidoti (Australia) to serve as the three members of the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar.  Ms. Jaising will serve as Chair of the three-person mission.

On 24 March 2017, at its thirty-fourth session, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to “establish facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State”.

Through Human Rights Council resolution 34/22, the 47-member body mandated the members of the mission to look into, inter alia, allegations of arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property.  The mission members, who will serve in their personal capacities, are also mandated to carry out their work with a view to ensuring full accountability for the perpetrators of these acts and justice for the victims.

The Council also encouraged the Government of Myanmar to fully cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making available the findings of their domestic investigations and by granting full, unrestricted and unmonitored access to all areas and interlocutors.  The Council also stressed the need for the mission to be provided with all necessary resources and expertise necessary to carry out its mandate.

The fact-finding mission is scheduled to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-sixth session in September this year and a full report at its thirty-seventh session in March 2018.

The members of the Mission are expected to meet in Geneva in the coming weeks to plan their agenda and work for the months ahead.

Biographies of the members of the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar

Ms. Indira Jaising (India) is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India, and former CEDAW member (2009-2012). She co-founded the Lawyers Collective in 1981, an NGO devoted to the defence of human rights and women’s rights.  She was India’s first woman to be designated a Senior Advocate by the High Court of Bombay in 1986, and first female Additional Solicitor General of the country from 2009 until 2014. She drafted India’s first domestic violence act, allowing women to bring civil and criminal suits against attackers for the first time. She graduated in law with an LLB degree in 1964. Ms. Jaising holds a post graduate degree in law from University of Bombay and received a fellowship from the Institute of Advanced Legal studies of the University of London in 1970. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University New York, and Bok Visiting International Professor at University of Pennsylvania (2015).

Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka) is a lawyer by training and a civil society member of the Constitutional Council, formerly the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (2003-2006) and the Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (1984-2006). She has worked as the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (1994-2003), and as Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (2006-2012). In 2014, Ms. Coomaraswamy was appointed by the Un Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as lead author on the Global Study on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace and Security. As an academic, she is a Global Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. She received her B.A. from Yale University, her J.D. from Columbia University, an LL.M. from Harvard University and honorary PhDs from Amherst College, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the University of Edinburgh, University of Ulster, the University of Essex and the CUNY School of Law, amongst others.

Mr. Christopher Dominic Sidoti (Australia) is an international human rights consultant, specializing in the international human rights system and in national human rights institutions who, since 2000, has provided consultancy services on human rights law and practices to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNDP, UNICEF, the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions and several national human rights institutions. He was director of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR; 2003-2007), served as Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995-2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992-1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987-1992). From 1999 to 2013 he was principal facilitator and interlocutor in a human rights initiative between the Government of Australia and the Government of Myanmar.  He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Sydney, Griffith University (Queensland), University of the Sunshine Coast (Queensland) and the Australian Catholic University. Mr. Sidoti holds a Bachelor of Arts, major in government, and a Bachelor of Laws.

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