Unlawful Convictions of Burmese Political Prisoners are Crimes Against Humanity – U.N. Security Council Should Refer Burma to the International Criminal Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 19, 2008

[NEW YORK, NY] - Certain judges in Burma, acting under the orders of Chief Justice U Aung Toe and Senior General Than Shwe, are themselves criminally liable as co-conspirators to crimes against humanity for their acts in “trying” and “convicting” 60 political activists last week. “These acts are the latest from the junta which uses the judiciary as one of its key weapons to commit grave crimes,” says Global Justice Center President Janet Benshoof. Judges including those listed below are criminally culpable and must be referred to the International Criminal Court.

The Current Situation in Burma

The Burmese military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), continues to exercise dictatorial control over the lives of the people of Burma as it has done with impunity over forty years. The junta routinely employs torture, rape, slavery, murder, forced displacement, and mass imprisonment to consolidate its power and silence any dissent. These acts are criminal violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

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Criminal Accountability for Heinous crimes in Burma, A Joint Project of the Global Justice Center and the Burma’s Lawyers’ Council

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July, 2008

[NEW YORK, NY] - The Security Council should act under its Chapter 7 powers and end the impunity accorded the Burmese military junta for crimes perpetrated against the people of Burma. The junta uses torture, gang rape of ethnic women, slavery, murder, mass imprisonment, and abduction of children to fill military quotas in order to retain its power in what is a failed state. These acts go far beyond a repudiation of democracy; they are criminal violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including violations of the Geneva Conventions. There is a growing international consensus that no safe harbor should exist for perpetrators of heinous crimes. The Project on Criminal Accountability for Heinous Crimes in Burma seeks a Security Council resolution establishing an Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the commission in Burma of the most serious of crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, which threaten the peace, security and well being of the world.

In the Wake of Historic Resolution 1820 on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict Women of Burma and International Lawyers Call on the Security Council to Refer the Situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—June 20, 2008

[NEW YORK, NY] - The United Nation’s Security Council took a historic step with the passage of Resolution 1820 on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict. Resolution 1820 recognizes the importance of full implementation of Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and reaffirms the Security Council’s commitment to end sexual violence as a weapon of war and a means to terrorize populations and destroy communities. For this commitment to be meaningful, the Security Council must provide justice for victims of sexual violence in armed conflict even when it is not politically convenient.

EU RESOLUTION URGES UK TO USE PRESIDENCY OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL TO REFER BURMA TO THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -May 27, 2008

[NEW YORK, NY] – The United Kingdom should follow the recommendation of the Parliament of the European Union and use thepresidency of the UN Security Council to press for justice and accountability for the people of Burma by referring Senior General Than Shwe and his military regime to the International Criminal Court. The denial of humanitarian aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis should serve as a wake-up call to the international community to the brutality and indifference of a military regime that for four decades has systematically used torture, gang rape of ethnic women, slavery, murder, mass imprisonment, and child soldiers to consolidate its power.

Catastrophe in Burma a Wake Up Call to the International Community: Time to End Impunity for Heinous Crimes by the Military Regime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -May 22, 2008

[NEW YORK, NY] – Senior General Than Shwe’s denial of international humanitarian aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis should come as no surprise to the international community. This negligence and refusal of access is part and parcel of the criminal nature of the regime and reflects their fear that the entire world will see first hand the results of decades of systematic human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Today, the Parliament of the European Union made an important statement in the Joint Motion for Resolution on the tragic situation in Burma and recognized that those responsible for the crimes committed in Burma should be brought before the International Criminal Court. We applaud this step forward, however, any referral to the International Criminal Court must include the on-going use of torture, gang rape of ethnic women, forced labour, murder, mass imprisonment, and abduction of children to fill military quotas.

Scoop Independent News, “Burma Regime Denounced For Giving Selves Immunity”

Scoop Independent News publishes an article titled "Burma Regime Denounced for Giving Selves Immunity".

This article focuses on international law organizations (Burma Lawyers' Council, Global Justice Center and Burma Justice Committee) calling for a better constitution for Burma, and a criminal investigation into the crimes committed under the military regime. This constitution will not bring lasting democracy or peace.

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International Lawyers Denounce Attempt by Myanmar Regime to Give Themselves Immunity from Criminal Prosecutions and Renew Call for Criminal Investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—April 14, 2008

[MAE SOD, THAILAND] The Myanmar regime, guilty of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, has revealed that it is seeking to give itself constitutional immunity from prosecution for those crimes. The Burma Lawyers’ Council, the Global Justice Center and the Burma Justice Committee denounce this attempt by the regime to avoid accountability. The recently distributed final version of the Constitution being put to a “referendum” on May 10th, 2008 now includes in Chapter XIV “Transitory Provisions,” Article No. 445, stating, “No legal action shall be taken against those (either individuals or groups who are members of SLORC and SPDC) who officially carried out their duties according to their responsibilities.” This immunity is invalid under international law and cannot be accepted by the international community.

Washington Post: "Justice in Burma"

Check out an article by Janet Benshoof, Founder and President of GJC, in which she talks about Fred Hiatt's op-ed column and the violence of the military juntas in Burma. 

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Justice in Burma

The Washington Post publishes an article by GJC founder and president Janet Benshoof, titled "Justice in Burma."

This article responds to Fred Hiatt's Op-Ed on Burma, and explains why it would be wrong to make compromises for the military juntas; the people of Burma deserve access to the ICC, along with full investigations and justice.

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Lawyers call for criminal accountability for SPDC regime

The Nation publishes several Op-Eds by lawyers, calling for criminal accountability in the SPDC regime.

The first Op-Ed in this collection is one co-authored by Janet Benshoof, founder and president of GJC, and U Aung Htoo, of Burma Lawyers, titled "The Burma Lawyers Council and the Global Justice Center urge the United Nations Security Council to take all actions necessary to stop the murders of innocent people in Burma and hold the military junta commanders criminally accountable".

There are six other Op-Eds included as well.

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The Critical Role of Criminal Accountability in Establishing Rule of Law Based on Gender Equality

There is growing consensus in international law that grave violations of international humanitarian law are a threat to international peace and security and that the world community has a moral and legal duty to intervene if the state is the perpetrator, or cannot or will not stop the crimes. Perpetrators of gender-based crimes must be held accountable in order to ensure a rule  of law based on gender equality. 

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