39th session of the Human Rights Council: Opening Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

10 September 2018

Distinguished President,
Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva,
Excellencies,
Colleagues and friends,

It is an honour to be called to this mandate, to assist States to uphold the human rights of their people, in this year in which we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mr President,

This Council session will be apprised of the deeply shocking findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. The Mission has determined that many of the gross human rights violations, and serious violations of international humanitarian law, in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states amount to the gravest crimes under international law. In addition to crimes against humanity and war crimes – reported to have been committed in all three states – there is strong evidence indicating genocide, extermination and deportation of the Rohingya. It is shocking that journalists involved in documenting some of the massacres which occurred have been prosecuted, and now given a harsh sentence. They should be immediately released. Attacks and persecution appear to be continuing in Rakhine: at least 12,000 new Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh so far this year. In Kachin and Shan States, the Fact Finding Mission found indications of extrajudicial execution and unlawful killings, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, including against children ; sexual violence; arbitrary arrests; and forced labour. The persistence of these patterns of violations underscores the total impunity accorded to the Myanmar security forces.

I emphasise the imperative of justice for Myanmar. I welcome the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court’s finding that the Court has jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar, and possibly other crimes. This is an immensely important step towards ending impunity, and addressing the enormous suffering of the Rohingya people.I also welcome efforts by Member States at this Council to establish an independent international mechanism for Myanmar, to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes, in order to expedite fair and independent trials in national and international courts.This mechanism would also complement and support the preliminary examination of the ICC Prosecutor.I urge the Council to pass a resolution, and refer the matter to the General Assembly for its endorsement, so that such a mechanism can be established.

View this original statement HERE.

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