The UK Government’s Response to the Myanmar Crisis Contents

5Accountability and transparency

The international legal system

39.At the heart of this coup is the belief in impunity. The generals leading the junta believe they can act without consequence. It is vital that the international community demonstrates that this is not the case. Not only is it important that those responsible for crimes against civilians in Myanmar are held accountable, but also that others who would commit similar crimes in future can see that violations of international law have real consequences. The Government should not allow the military leaders to operate with impunity, and without the prospect of facing justice.

40.We recommend that, should other accountability efforts fail, the Government publicly state its support for referring those responsible for the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.

41.We heard that the lacklustre global response to the atrocities committed against the Rohingya paved the way for the February coup.46 The UK should not allow current events to overshadow efforts to bring about justice for the the Rohingya. In September 2020, Canada and the Kingdom of the Netherlands announced their intention to intervene in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) case brought by The Gambia against Myanmar for alleged violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention).47 Many contributors of written evidence argued that the UK should also intervene in the ICJ case.48 The Government has voiced its support for the case, but has not announced its intention to formally intervene.4950 We recommend that the UK Government announce its intention to intervene in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar) at the International Court of Justice.


42.Journalists in Myanmar are doing vital work to sustain international attention and pressure on the crimes of the Tatmadaw.51 As Dr Sasa said, journalists:

Play a crucial and vital role as the voice of the people of Myanmar. When journalists’ reporting stops, this democracy movement stops.52

While we commend the ongoing work of the BBC World Service in Myanmar,53 we also recognise the importance of ensuring local media organisations, who can provide a range of perspectives and shed light on different issues, are able to continue their work.

43.Assistance should be provided to local media organisations which continue to provide information and hold the junta to account at serious personal risk. Ethnic media agencies in particular, which broadcast and provide information in different languages throughout Myanmar, require particular support. We recommend that the Government explore ways to provide core funding and resourcing support to independent ethnic language media organisations.

The International Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

44.In September 2018, the UN Human Rights Council adopted resolution 39/2, which led to the establishment of the International Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM). The purpose of the IIMM is to:

Collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011, and to prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes, in accordance with international law.54

45.The IIMM is an essential means of gathering and preserving evidence of current and historic human rights violations in Myanmar, and will prove invaluable in providing truth, reconciliation and justice in future. While we heard that UK support for the IIMM was welcome, we heard that local civil society organisations who are gathering evidence are not adequately supported.55 In evidence to the Committee, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab MP said that the Government “would support” any NGOs gathering evidence.56 The Government should target funding and resources such as protected communications and data storage equipment to civil society organisations on the ground in Myanmar, who are collecting evidence of human rights abuses committed by the Tatmadaw, for future due process.

46 Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (MYA0015) p 1; Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (MYA0013)
para 8

48 Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) (MYA0015) p 1

49 Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (MYA0020) para 21

51 Q5 [Naw K’nyaw Paw], Q8 [Dr Sasa]

52 Q8 [Dr Sasa]

53 BBC World Service (MYA0049)

54 United Nations, Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, accessed 21 June 2021

55 Burma Campaign UK (MYA0009) para 25

56 Oral evidence taken on 6 July 2021, HC 518, Q529 [Dominic Raab MP]

Published: 16 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement