April 22, 2013

IX. Recommendations

To the Government of Burma

Justice and Accountability

  • Fully, promptly, and impartially investigate those responsible for serious abuses in connection with the sectarian violence in Arakan State and prosecute them fairly to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of rank or position.
  • Agree to the establishment of an independent international mechanism to investigate serious violations of international human rights law, including possible crimes against humanity, committed by security forces and non-state actors in Arakan State.
  • Provide unfettered access to Arakan State for the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, and for representatives of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
  • Authorize and facilitate establishment of an OHCHR office in Burma with a mandate for rights protection, promotion, and technical assistance; and permit OHCHR to set up branch offices as needed elsewhere in the country, including in Arakan State.
  • Invite the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief to visit and report on the situation in Arakan State.
  • Publicly release the findings of the presidential commission tasked with investigating the situation in Arakan State that were already submitted to the government, and any future findings of the commission.
  • Immediately make public information about the fate of all the hundreds of Rohingya and Arakanese detained since the security operations began in June 2012 in Arakan State. Ensure that anyone in detention has access to legal counsel of their choosing and to family members; detainees that have not been charged with a criminal offense should be released.
  • Release Dr. Tun Aung and other political prisoners arrested in Arakan State since June 2012.
  • Amend the legislation creating the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to ensure its independence and other requirements of the Paris Principles on national human rights commissions.
  • Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Statelessness and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
  • Ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Humanitarian Aid and Access

  • Provide safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN agencies and international and national humanitarian organizations to all affected populations in Arakan State.
  • Allow unhindered access for humanitarian organizations to all detention facilities in Arakan State holding persons in connection with the sectarian violence.

Prevention of Human Rights Violations

  • Revise legislation as necessary and ensure state practice upholds the equal rights of Rohingya and other Muslims in Burma in accordance with international human rights law.
  • Immediately order government security forces, including Nasaka, police, and army, to stop mass arrests of Rohingya or other group on account of their ethnic, religious or other status.
  • Undertake an independent expert review of the border guard force, Nasaka, to reorganize it as necessary to end abusive practices.
  • Ensure that law enforcement officials do not use excessive or unnecessary force, and operate in accordance with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms.
  • Rescind provisions of the state of emergency in Arakan State that permit for arrests without necessary due process safeguards.
  • Launch a public information campaign promoting tolerance and non-discrimination.
  • Develop a long-term plan in consultation with affected communities to end discrimination and promote tolerance in Arakan State.
  • Ensure high-level national government officials make clear public statements endorsing non-discrimination and the right of all individuals in Arakan State to equal protection of the law.

Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

  • Treat all internally displaced persons (IDPs) in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
  • Immediately lift all unnecessary restrictions on freedom of movement of the Rohingya population, and ensure they are able to pursue livelihoods, purchase essentials and return to their homes and recover property, providing protection as needed. Make available alternative locations to accommodate IDPs and refugees who do not wish to return to their places of origin and instead relocate to other areas or remain in areas in the vicinity of their displacement.
  • Ensure that returns of displaced persons and refugees take place in accordance with international standards, on a voluntary basis with attention to the safety and dignity of the returning population.
  • Initiate and sustain reconciliation programs with local communities to promote and facilitate the voluntary return and reintegration of refugees and IDPs.

Citizenship

  • Urgently amend the 1982 Citizenship Law to eliminate provisions that are discriminatory or have a discriminatory impact on determining citizenship for reasons of ethnicity, race, religion or other protected status. Ensure that the amended law is enforced to provide citizenship without discrimination.
  • Revise the Citizenship Act in accordance with article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure that Rohingya children have the right to acquire a nationality where otherwise they would be stateless.
  • Cease including ethnic and religious biographical details on national identity cards, as a matter of anti-discrimination practice and policy

National Census

  • Ensure that the national census currently underway, directed by the Ministry of Immigration and Population and supported by the UN Population Fund, fully complies with international standards, is non-discriminatory, and covers all populations in Burma, including Rohingya.
  • Ensure that Rohingya are employed to conduct the census in Rohingya areas and communities in Arakan State.

To the Neighboring States of Thailand, Malaysia, and Bangladesh

  • Immediately open borders to Rohingya asylum seekers and provide them with at least temporary protection. Order naval security forces to cease pushbacks of boats of asylum seekers fleeing Burma and inform coastal villages to do the same.
  • Provide unfettered access for UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to fleeing Rohingya asylum seekers and ensure that they have adequate food, shelter, and protection.
  • Allow UNHCR access to register and assist arriving Rohingya, and to conduct refugee status determination screening for those seeking asylum, including all those designated by the UNHCR as in “a refugee-like situation” but whose status has not yet been verified.
  • Coordinate and agree upon search and rescue procedures so that the immediate humanitarian needs of asylum seekers and migrants are met and responsibility is shared.
  • Permit officially recognized Rohingya refugees in the Bangladesh-based Nayapara and Kutupalong camps to take up offers of third-country resettlement without hindrance.
  • Allow unregistered and undocumented Rohingya from Arakan State living in Bangladesh to lodge refugee claims.
  • Provide domestic and international media, nongovernmental organizations, and foreign diplomats unfettered access to the areas where Rohingya fleeing Burma are arriving.
  • Press the Burmese government to end human rights violations and discriminatory policies, including with respect to citizenship, against the Rohingya and other vulnerable minorities, making clear that such actions will harm Burma’s bilateral relationships and international standing.
  • Use the Bali Process to forge a regional consensus to protect the rights of Rohingya fleeing by boat, and press ASEAN to adopt that consensus.

To Concerned Governments, including Australia, Canada, Japan, US, and EU Member States:

  • Press the Burmese government to allow the UN special rapporteur on Burma to conduct an independent investigation into abuses in Arakan State; express support for an OHCHR office in Burma with a full protection, promotion, and technical assistance mandate, and sub-offices in states around the country, including in Arakan State. Provide sufficient resources to allow the special rapporteur on Burma and OHCHR to be able to carry out these activities.
  • Call on the Burmese government to permit diplomatic missions in Burma to travel to affected areas, including displaced person sites.
  • Provide financial and technical support to UN agencies and humanitarian organizations providing assistance in Arakan State and for refugees and asylum seekers in Bangladesh; publicly promote unfettered access for humanitarian agencies and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all populations in need.
  • Publicly press Burmese authorities to end discrimination and violence against Rohingya and other vulnerable minorities, making clear that such actions will harm Burma’s bilateral relationships and international standing.
  • Support reconciliation efforts between the Arakan and Rohingya populations in Arakan State, and publicly press the Burmese government to reform the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law and bring it into line with international standards.

To United Nations Agencies and the Donor Community:

  • Provide sufficient resources and other support (including OHCHR staff support) to enable the UN special rapporteur on Burma to conduct a full investigation into abuses in Arakan State.
  • Ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered impartially to all populations in need in Arakan State, including those not displaced; raise concerns publicly when humanitarian access to communities in need is blocked.
  • Urge the Burmese government to permit the resumption of assistance programs in northern Arakan State that were suspended in June 2012.
  • Ensure that any assessments of the humanitarian situation in Arakan State include not only the communities affected by sectarian violence but also those affected by abusive security force sweeps since June 2012.
  • Ensure that the national census, currently underway and supported by the United Nations Population Fund, meets international standards, is non-discriminatory, and covers all populations in Burma, including Rohingya.
  • Provide support for the national census only on the basis that Rohingya representatives are appointed to the ethnic advisory committee for the census, and that Rohingya are hired to conduct the census questionnaires in Arakan State.

To the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Other Donors:

  • Ensure that any future development projects in Arakan State are explicitly conditioned on non-discrimination in provision of assistance and take into account the impact of planned projects on both Rohingya and Arakanese communities.
  • Ensure that any future development projects in Arakan State do not discriminate in any way against Rohingya on the basis that they are not Burmese citizens under the 1982 Citizenship Act.