Myanmar’s military leader Senior General Min Aung Hliang Friday was accused of crimes against humanity in a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP).
Article 15 of the Rome Statute empowers the ICC Prosecutor to initiate an investigation on receiving information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. MAP, a human rights advocacy group, has requested the ICC under Article 15 to launch a criminal investigation into “the use of torture as part of the violent crackdown against the protest movement in Myanmar.” MAP’s submission is accompanied by evidence of the widespread and systematic use of torture in furtherance of state policies in Myanmar since the military seized control from the democratically elected government in February 2021.
A recent finding of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) set up by the UN in 2018 supports these allegations. The IIMM, in its third annual report to the Human Rights Council, made a preliminary finding that crimes against humanity “including murder, persecution, imprisonment, sexual violence, enforced disappearance and torture, have likely been committed.”
In a recent statement to the UN Human Rights Council, IIMM head Nicholas Koumjian explained that “the Mechanism has collected over 219,000 information items related to post-coup events.” He also argued that “evidence shows security forces acting in a coordinated manner across different regions, systematically targeting specific categories of persons, such as journalists and medical professionals.”
MAP has also relied in its submission on the findings of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has found that since the coup in February, over 1,300 people have been killed, and over 7,000 have been arrested, charged, or sentenced.
MAP Director Chris Gunness has stated that “the leader of the illegal coup is criminally responsible for the security forces under his command committing mass atrocity crimes.” He believes that the “prospects of a conviction are good” and that “grounds for issuing an arrest warrant against Min Aung Hlaing are overwhelming.”