UN rights chief presses for new body on crimes against Rohingya

New High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, right, welcomes delegates upon her arrival on the opening day of 39th UN Council of Human Rights in Geneva on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018
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UN rights chief presses for new body on crimes against Rohingya

  • The investigators named six generals, including the commander-in-chief, whom they said should face justice
  • Some 700,000 Rohingya fled the crackdown and most are now living in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh

GENEVA: United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Monday for a new quasi-judicial body to collect evidence with a view to future prosecution of crimes against Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar including murder and torture.
An independent UN team of investigators said in a report last month that there was evidence indicating “genocidal intent” by the military against Rohingya and that crimes against humanity and war crimes appear to have been committed.
The investigators named six generals, including the commander-in-chief, whom they said should face justice.
A year ago, government troops led a brutal crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on 30 Myanmar police posts and a military base.
Some 700,000 Rohingya fled the crackdown and most are now living in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.
Bachelet, in her first speech to the Human Rights Council since taking office on Sept. 1, said that attacks and persecution appear to continue in Rakhine state. Investigators had also found indications of executions, torture and sexual violence against minorities in Kachin and Shan states, she said.
“The persistence of these patterns of violations underscores the total impunity accorded to the Myanmar security forces,” Bachelet told the 47-member Geneva forum which opened a three-week session.
She welcomed a decision by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week that it has jurisdiction over alleged deportations of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh as a possible crime against humanity.
“This is an immensely important step toward 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 analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes, in order to expedite fair and independent trials in national and international courts.”
The new mechanism — similar to what has been set up for crimes in Syria — would complement and support the preliminary examination of the ICC prosecutor, she added.
“I urge the Council to pass a resolution and refer the matter to the (UN) General Assembly for its endorsement so that such a mechanism can be established,” she said.
Myanmar has denied committing atrocities against the Rohingya, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants. It has so far signalled it does not intend to cooperate with the international court.


No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

Updated 17 July 2019
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No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

  • Many lawmakers, business community fear dire economic outcome
  • A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit

LONDON: The battle to become Britain's next prime minister enters the home straight on Wednesday with both candidates hardening their positions on Brexit, putting the future government on a collision course with Brussels.
Ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are now both referring to Britain's departure with no overall deal in place as a realistic prospect.
The business community and many lawmakers fear dire economic consequences from a no-deal Brexit, which would lead to immediate trade tariffs for some sectors including the automotive industry.
Johnson and Hunt are taking part in a final question-and-answer session later on Wednesday before the result of the vote by Conservative Party members is announced next Tuesday.
The new party leader will be confirmed as prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II on the following day.
Britain has twice delayed its scheduled departure from the European Union after 46 years of membership as May tried and failed to get her deal with Brussels through parliament.
The two candidates vying to replace her have vowed to scrap a "backstop" provision in the agreement that Brussels insisted upon to keep the Irish border open.
Their latest attacks on the measure during a debate on Monday prompted a plunge in the value of the British pound.
The currency fell again Wednesday to its lowest level against the US dollar in over two years.
"The tougher stance from both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in terms of their rhetoric on Brexit is clearly weighing on the pound," said market analyst Neil Wilson.
"Make no mistake, this decline in the pound is down to traders pricing in a higher chance of a no-deal exit."
The backstop has proved a key stumbling block in the Brexit process.
The measure would keep open the post-Brexit border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member the Republic of Ireland whatever the outcome of negotiations over the future relationship between London and Brussels.
Johnson announced early in his campaign that he would not sign up to it and would pursue a no-deal Brexit if required, leading his opponent to follow suit.
However, European leaders have been adamant that the backstop must remain a part of any divorce deal, raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who will become European Commission president in November, said the draft withdrawal agreement provided "certainty".
She also broached a possible further delay to Britain's departure, saying: "I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason."
Johnson has pledged that under his leadership, Britain will leave "do or die" on the current deadline of October 31.
A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit, but attempts to pass legislation blocking the scenario have failed.
Reports this week suggested Johnson is considering plans to end the current session of parliament in early October, leaving MPs powerless.
Finance Minister Philip Hammond said Wednesday it was "terrifying" that some Brexit supporters thought that no deal would leave Britain better off.
And in a speech in London, May said the "best route" for Britain was to leave with a deal.
Delivering her last major address, she railed against the trend towards "absolutism" in Britain and abroad, and urged her successor to compromise.
"Whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long term, so that delivering Brexit brings our country back together. That has to mean some kind of compromise," she said.