TWN Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (May17/06)
31 May 2017
Third World Network

Members of fact-finding mission on Myanmar appointed
Published in SUNS #8472 dated 31 May 2017

Geneva, 30 May (Kanaga Raja) - The President of the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday announced the appointment of the three members of the fact-finding mission on Myanmar, which has been tasked to look into "alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State."

According to a press release, the Council President, Ambassador Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli of El Salvador, has appointed Ms. Indira Jaising (India), Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka) and Mr. Christopher Dominic Sidoti (Australia) as members of the fact-finding mission, with Ms Jaising serving as its Chair.

At its thirty-fourth session earlier this March, the Council adopted a resolution without a vote on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, in which it decided to dispatch urgently an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council.

In the resolution, the Council had decided to dispatch urgently the fact-finding mission "to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State, including but not limited to arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property, with a view to ensuring full accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims."

The Council had requested the fact-finding mission to present to the Council an oral update at its thirty-sixth session (this September) and a full report at its thirty-seventh session (in March 2018).

It had encouraged the Government of Myanmar to cooperate fully with the fact-finding mission, including by making available the findings of the domestic investigations and other relevant information, and stressed the need for the fact-finding mission to be granted full, unrestricted and unmonitored access to all areas and interlocutors.

The Council further stressed the need for the fact-finding mission to be provided with all the resources and expertise necessary to carry out its mandate, including forensic expertise and expertise on sexual and gender- based violence. (See SUNS #8431 dated 28 March 2017).

Ms Jaising, who will serve as Chair of the fact-finding mission, is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India, and a former member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (2009-2012).

She is a former additional solicitor-general of India, and heads the Lawyers Collective (that has fallen foul of the present BJP government), fighting causes of the under-privileged in society, social causes and women's issues.

Ms. Coomaraswamy is a lawyer by training and a civil society member of the Constitutional Council.

She was formerly the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (2003-2006) and the Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (1984-2006).

She also served as UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (1994-2003), and as Under-Secretary- General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (2006-2012).

Mr. Sidoti is an international human rights consultant, specializing in the international human rights system and in national human rights institutions.

Since 2000, he has provided consultancy services on human rights law and practices to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNDP, UNICEF, the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions and several national human rights institutions.

Mr Sidoti was also director of the International Service for Human Rights (2003-2007), and served as Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995-2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992-1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987-1992).