December 12, 2017
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UN envoy blasts police impunity in Myanmar

UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana talks to the media as he leaves a press briefing on the situation of the restive Rakhine state held in Yangon on July 30, 2012. AFP

In a statement released on June 11 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN’s special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, said that the fatal shooting last week of three Rohingya women participating in a peaceful protest in Rakhine State is the latest shocking example of how law enforcement officials operate with complete impunity in the country.

Quintana’s comments come ahead of an expected statement on Myanmar this week by the President of the UN Human Rights Council, but would seemed to defy official reports from the Rakhine State government which said that allegations the police shot the women were in question.

According to Quintana: “The human rights violations being committed against the Rohingya in Rakhine State are widespread and systematic, and there continues to be absolutely no accountability for what is occurring there. There is no way of glossing over this state of affairs with the genuine progress that is being made in other areas.”

He continued: “The Government of Myanmar has an obligation to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into incidents such as these, and to hold those responsible to account. However, since the violence in Rakhine State first erupted last June, I have seen absolutely no evidence that the Government is fulfilling this obligation.”

The UN envoy said he had received consistent and credible allegations of a wide range of human rights violations being committed against the Rohingya and wider Muslim population in Rakhine State.

“Allegations include ‘sweeps’ of Muslim villages where men and boys are arbitrarily detained, tortured in detention and then denied their due process rights, including access to legal counsel and a fair trial. Muslim women in these villages are left increasingly vulnerable to rape and sexual violence by security officials conducting these ‘sweeps’ as the men seek to escape arbitrary detention,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“In my report to the Human Rights Council in March, I said that if the Rakhine Investigation Commission fails to properly address allegations of human rights violations, I will offer my support to the Government to pursue further investigations. I reiterate my offer of support to the Government to address the impunity which is enabling widespread and systematic human rights violations to continue against the most vulnerable of all ethnic minority groups in Myanmar,” he said.

For more background:

  1. Rakhine govt disputes claim Rohingya women killed by police
  2. 3 Rohingya women shot dead by police at refugee camp

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