Burma Campaign UK welcomes a statement by Foreign Office Minister Mark Field MP today in which he said: “We are determined that those who have committed human rights violations including crimes of sexual violence against the Rohingya are held to account.”
We call on the British government to now take the next logical step and formally support a referral of the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Unless the British government officially supports an ICC referral, all we are seeing is more words without action,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “The British government should publicly support an ICC referral and start building international support to help overcome potential opposition from Russia and China.”
Burma is not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the ICC, and as Burma will not self-refer itself to the Court, the only way there can be an investigation by ICC is if a referral is made by the United Nations Security Council. At the present time Russia and China would likely veto any Resolution for a referral, so it is vital to start building international consensus for a referral.
Since the Burmese military operation against the Rohingya began on 25th August the United Nations, media, and human rights organisations have documented numerous human rights violations which meet the legal definition of crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
“The British government publicly supporting an ICC referral will put Min Aung Hlaing, the head of Burma’s military, on notice that his days of acting with impunity are coming to an end,” said Mark Farmaner. “So far Min Aung Hlaing has not paid any price for his campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya. If the British government starts building international support for an ICC referral, he is likely to think twice before carrying out further attacks against the Rohingya and other ethnic groups. The British government backing an ICC referral would send a powerful political message and could help save lives.
The statement by Mark Field is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-rohingya-people-of-rakhine-state-uk-government-actions-update-28-november-2017