UN Said Myanmar executions could be war crimes

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GENEVA: A UN official said Monday that the Myanmar junta’s plans to murder political opponents could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.

On June 3, the junta announced the execution of a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party and a notable democracy activist, both convicted of terrorism, in the country’s first judicial executions since 1990.

Four persons sentenced to death, including former MP Phyo Zeya Thaw and democracy campaigner Ko Jimmy, “shall be hung according to prison protocols,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said at the time.

The head of the UN’s Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, Nicholas Koumjian, said he was keeping a careful eye on the situation.

“The available information strongly shows that under international law, the convicted persons’ fundamental rights were grossly violated in these proceedings,” Koumjian said of the closed-door trials.

“Imposing a death sentence, or even confinement, based on proceedings that do not meet the basic conditions of a fair trial may constitute one or more crimes against humanity or war crimes,” he added.

The military sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death after seizing power last year as part of its crackdown on dissent, although Myanmar has not carried out an execution in decades.

According to Koumjian, in order for a trial to be considered fair, it must be held in public to the greatest extent possible.

“Exceptions based on national security or other grounds must be strictly justified,” he said.

However, “it appears that there were no public hearings, nor are the decisions publicly available” in these cases.
This prompted concerns about the tribunal’s impartiality and independence, he added.

The UN human rights council established the Myanmar mechanism in 2018.

Its mission is to collect and document evidence of international crimes and human rights breaches in the former Burma in order to facilitate criminal procedures.

Source: CNA

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