Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar & Hong Kong
ANFREL started publishing the monthly brief on the countries under a restrictive environment in April 2021 to provide an insight into the human rights and democracy situation in these countries. As usual, they will cover issues related to elections and civil and political rights in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Hong Kong.
To read the full brief, please click here.
[MARUAH] International Criminal Court Review Process in 2021 – Assessing and implementing the experts’ recommendations13 May 2021
The ICC Review Mechanism
In early 2021 States Parties appointed Ambassador Paul Van Den Ijssel (Netherlands), based in The Hague, and Ambassador Michael Kanu (Sierra Leone), based in New York, as the State party representatives heading the ICC Review Mechanism. States parties also appointed three regional country focal points: Bangladesh, Chile, and Poland.
The Mechanism is mandated to:
- Submit a proposal for the categorization of the IER recommendations by 30 April, to the ASP Bureau.
- Submit a proposed action plan to the Bureau by 30 June. The proposed action plan should:
– Allocate the IER recommendations to the relevant court organs and ASP thematic focal points, facilitations, and working groups for their considerations. The Mechanism is expected to deal with the rest of the recommendations;
– Prioritize the IER recommendations; and
– Set deadlines for the consideration of the IER recommendations.
- Regularly brief States Parties on its progress and submit a report on the review process to the ASP ahead of the 20th session of the Assembly of States Parties.
Proposal for the categorization of the IER recommendations
On 29 April 2021, the ICC Review Mechanism submitted its “Proposal for the categorization of the IER recommendations and remaining review issues” to the ASP Bureau, together with an Introductory note.
The Review Mechanism also published the Comments on categorization submitted by:
- States Parties (Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Joint submission by the Nordic countries -Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden-, and Study Group on Governance (SGG) Co-Chairs and focal points)
- The Court (by the Court, Office of Public Counsel for the Defence (OPCD), Staff Union Council)
- Civil society (Human Rights Watch, Maruah, Philippines-CICC, SALC)
- And the International Criminal Court Bar Association
A review of the ICC’s performance for a strengthened Court and Rome Statute System
In 2018 the Rome Statute celebrated its 20th anniversary. States Parties, Court officials, civil society and other key stakeholders reflected then on the achievements and the challenges of the ICC and the Rome Statute system. The ICC’s own shortcomings had become evident: limited success of the Prosecution in the courtroom, with a low conviction rate, taking into account the number of cases investigated; limited impact in the countries concerned; lack of an adequate level of cooperation; among others.That triggered discussions on steps to strengthen the Courtand the Rome Statute system.
In 2019, this led to the launch of a review of the functioning of the court’s and the Rome Statute system.
For more information, please visit https://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/review-icc-and-rome-statute-system.
38th Session of the Universal Periodic Review – Review of Singapore [Wed 12 May 3 – 6.30pm (SG time)]9 May 2021
The Review of Singapore will be broadcast live at http://webtv.un.org/.
Please click here to add a reminder to watch the review live on UN Web TV.
What is the Universal Periodic Review?
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed. The ultimate aim of this mechanism is to improve the human rights situation in all countries and address human rights violations wherever they occur. Currently, no other universal mechanism of this kind exists.
Please click here for more information on the UPR.
MARUAH wishes to congratulate ASEAN for organising an ASEAN Special Summit Meeting on the 24th of April 2021 to discuss Myanmar and find a collective path to restore peace, non-violence, and democracy in the country. We state that this Special Summit is crucially important to the people in Myanmar and for ASEAN as a regional body of 10 member states. We also appreciate Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan for the discussions he had with ASEAN member states of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia which have also been working towards this special Summit. We note that call made by ASEAN’s foreign ministers for a halt to the escalating violence and dialogue to end the crisis.
But we need to underscore the importance of having a legitimate representation from Myanmar at the Special Summit meeting, as it is also part of ASEAN’s responsibility to the people in Myanmar and in ASEAN. We are of the view that this dialogue effort to negotiate for an agreement towards non-violence, peace and democracy would be derailed if Myanmar’s junta leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, is the sole representative for Myanmar. We note with concern the announcement made by Thailand that General Min Aung Hlaing is set to attend the ASEAN Special Summit meeting.
The Tatmadaw’s leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, is the key person, responsible for the: coup; denunciation of last year’s legitimate elections where the National League for Democracy (NLD) had won decisively and fairly; ongoing violent assaults on people, continued air raids targeting ethnic groups and the severe restrictions and censorship imposed on the people. The net result is one that shows Myanmar’s people fleeing to other countries, an internal humanitarian crisis, of more than 700 civilians, including 50 children, having been killed by Myanmar’s security forces since February 1st and the possibility of a civil war as 10 of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups have recently thrown their support behind the movement for democracy, peace and free and fair elections.
Hence, we state that recognising Gen Min Aung Hlaing as Myanmar’s political leader to be the sole representative at the Special Summit, would be a travesty to the rule of law, the principles spelt out in the ASEAN Charter and a gross injustice, a betrayal, to the people in Myanmar, many of whom are willing to die for their country.
We ask instead that the Special Summit asks for representatives from: the National Unity Government (NUG) that has been formed; the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) which is a body formed of elected lawmakers from Myanmar’s ousted civilian government; and the tatmawdaw. This way it also anchors ASEAN as the neutral mediator focused on key political players being at the dialogues. It is also an opportunity for ASEAN to establish itself as the regional body that endorses peace, harmony and democracy in the region as also endorsed in the preamble of the 1976 Treaty of the Amity And Cooperation in Southeast Asia.
In summary, we urge that this ASEAN Special Summit does:
- include representatives from Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) and Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH)
- explicitly state that General Min Aung Hlaing is attending as a representative of the Tatmadaw, not as leader of Myanmar
- make a clear stand that ASEAN is functioning by the Responsibility to Protect principles and its principles for peace, democracy, and rule of law.
Statement issued by MARUAH Secretariat
20th April 2021
 “CONVINCED that the settlement of differences or disputes between their countries should be regulated by rational, effective and sufficiently flexible procedures, avoiding negative attitudes which might endanger or hinder cooperation; BELIEVING in the need for cooperation with all peace-loving nations, both within and outside Southeast Asia, in the furtherance of world peace, stability and harmony;”. https://asean.org/treaty-amity-cooperation-southeast-asia-indonesia-24-february-1976/
ANFREL will start publishing this brief to provide an insight into the human rights and democracy situation in the countries facing democratic regression. In this series, they have covered Cambodia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong. Please click on the image below to access the full brief.
8th April 2021
By: Tan Yi Han*
Seven year old Khin Myo Chit was sitting on her father’s lap in her home when soldiers killed her. Thinzar Hein was a nursing student who was treating injured protestors at protest sites when she was shot in the head by soldiers. Sixteen year old Kyaw Min Latt was cycling with two others when soldiers in a passing vehicle shot him.
More than 500 civilians have been killed since the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, seized power on 1 February 2021. The highest toll – 141 lost their lives in one day of 27 March. The escalating violence represents not only a humanitarian crisis but threatens regional peace, stability and prosperity.
ASEAN cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this tragedy. The leaders of ASEAN must act decisively to help Myanmar return peacefully to a democratically-elected civilian government.
ASEAN has taken encouraging first steps. A statement conveyed by ASEAN Chair, Brunei, summarising the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers, urged for a “peaceful solution” to the crisis. Also deserving of applause are individual statements issued by Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore urging Myanmar’s military rulers to free Suu Kyi and other political leaders who have been arrested.
Thailand has called for ASEAN to adopt a “collective stand” on Myanmar. That could happen via the high-level ASEAN meeting of Southeast-Asian leaders proposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. It is encouraging that Singapore actively supports such a proposal. as stated by the Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
The Myanmar general election on 8 November 2020, won decisively by the National League for Democracy (NLD), had been praised by election monitors for being a peaceful process and that it was free of major irregularities. The Tatmadaw has a right to raise concerns on the election. In fact the Union Solidarity Development Party had filed their complaints in court, making it unnecessary an illegal to resort to violence. The coup and subsequent killings call into question the Tatmadaw’s claim to be defending the Constitution and the will of the people.
The anti-coup movement continues to grow despite the brutal crackdown, suggesting that the coup is widely condemned by the people of Myanmar. Meanwhile, 10 of Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups have thrown their support behind the anti-coup movement. All signs point to a protracted conflict and further escalation of violence.
The peaceful transition to democracy in 2015 had led to a friendly environment for economic investments, including from fellow ASEAN countries. In fact, Singapore has been the largest investor in the country, with US$24.1 billion in approved foreign capital. The coup is therefore not only disastrous for the country’s economic recovery, but also for the entire region’s economy.
Many from ethnic groups and villagers are fleeing the violence, becoming refugees. What is often forgotten is the pandemic and that Covid-19 is still rife. The Chinese city of Ruili near the Myanmar border has already seen an outbreak of Covid.
The gestures made by ASEAN and some of the countries in ASEAN cannot remain as just the spoken word. In fact, there has been success when ASEAN’s engagement effort, among other efforts, helped to pave the way towards Myanmar’s political reforms under Prime Minister (and later President) Thein Sein, leading eventually, to a peaceful transition of power to a democratically-elected civilian-led government in 2015.
ASEAN must endeavour to use its unique position and relationship with Myanmar to positively influence the Tatmadaw and mediate between the key political stakeholders: the Tatmadaw, Aung San Suu Kyi and the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, and representatives from the ethnic minorities.
For negotiations to be successful, however, all parties must see it as the best way forward. That means that ASEAN must make a clear stand that while the Tatmadaw is a key stakeholder in Myanmar, it does not represent the people nor the government of Myanmar. Only decisions collectively agreed by Myanmar’s key political stakeholders should be recognised.
ASEAN is the best hope for the people of Myanmar. I urge the leaders of ASEAN to:
- Hold as soon as possible a high-level ASEAN meeting of Southeast-Asian leaders to discuss the Myanmar crisis and adopt a collective stand towards addressing the conflict.
- Facilitate dialogue between Myanmar’s key political stakeholders;
- Make a clear stand the Tatmadaw does not represent the people or government of Myanmar, and only collective decisions via peaceful negotiations will be recognised.
ASEAN can do it again. It needs to. ASEAN must.
*Opinion Writer for MARUAH
*Edited & Approved by MARUAH
Please click on the screen shot above for the full statement.
In October 2020, MARUAH submitted its Stakeholder’s Report for the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review focusing on civil and political rights – Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Association, Censorship, Electoral System, Justice (incl minimum working age, corporal punishment, juvenile justice system & death penalty) and Discrimination (incl LGBTQIA, equality of races, women and income inequalities/job opportunities).
We also submitted recommendations in each section based on the SMART framework and draw upon the recommendations made by Human Rights Council to Singapore, our mid-term UPR report (2018), and the past UPRs we have submitted in 2011 and 2015.
Please click here to access the full report.