Header image for news printout

Myanmar: UN rights expert urges restraint in security operation in Rakhine State

GENEVA (11 August 2017) – A United Nations human rights expert has expressed alarm over reports that an army battalion has flown into Rakhine State in western Myanmar to help local authorities boost security in the region.

“This development, which reportedly took place yesterday, is a cause for major concern,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee. “The Government must ensure that security forces exercise restraint in all circumstances and respect human rights in addressing the security situation in Rakhine State.”

Ms. Lee added: “I am particularly reminded of the allegations of serious human rights violations which followed security force operations in the aftermath of attacks against three border guard police facilities in Maungdaw and Rathedaung in October and further clashes in November.”

“I have noted from the Summary Report of the Investigation Commission for Maungdaw in Rakhine State, publically released last Sunday, that many allegations of human rights violations are being investigated or have been recommended for further investigation,” the expert highlighted.

“The Presidential Commission admitted it was not able to verify many of these alleged violations or crimes including torture, rape and arson, and asked that these be properly addressed by the relevant authorities,” Ms. Lee said.

“There have been increasing reports of incidents affecting the local population, including the killings of six Mro villagers on 3 August,” she said. “I share the concern of the Myanmar Government and its people regarding the safety and security of those living in Rakhine State in the light of these incidents.”

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged the State’s responsibility to provide security and protect people from attacks by extremists, but said this responsibility had to cover all residents, and the authorities could not afford more security to some  than others.

The expert reminded that the use force must always be in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality to ensure full respect for human live. “Any measures security forces take or any operations they undertake to secure the areas concerned must be carried out in line with international human rights norms and standards,” Ms. Lee stressed.

The expert’s call has been endorsed by the UN the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard.

The Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar, Professor Yanghee Lee, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Ms. Agnes Callamard, are are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Myanmar

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Azwa Petra (+ 44 22 928 9103 / apetra@ohchr.org) or write to sr-myanmar@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org