UN Human Rights Council, 37th session. Sweden's statement delivered by H.E. Ambassador Veronika Bard.
Thank you Mr. Vice-President,
Sweden fully aligns itself with the statement made by the EU.
We warmly thank Special Rapporteur Lee for her work and report and for the presentation by chair of FFM Mr Marzuki Darusman.
Once again, and for obvious reasons, this council has the human rights situation in Myanmar high on its agenda. We have heard strong statements from the UNSG and the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We could not agree more on what has been said, and we share the deep concern expressed, not least on Rakhine State, where reports of systematic, widespread and coordinated violence, including sexual and gender based violence, clearly indicate that crimes against humanity have been committed. Impunity cannot be an option.
While positive steps have been taken, government efforts towards ending discrimination and statelessness of the rohingya are clearly insufficient. Current conditions are not conducive for any large-scale return of refugees to Myanmar, a return that has to be
voluntary, safe and dignified, in line with international law.
This council is about to adopt a broad resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar. In this regard it is worth reminding ourselves of the human rights violations by the military of Myanmar towards several minority groups, not only the Rohingya. Crimes throughout the years that continue today in several conflict areas where impunity prevails. Special Rapporteur Ms Lee in January, after regrettably having been denied access to Myanmar, gave account of a déjà vu feeling among other ethnic minority groups when following events in Rakhine State.
I would like to join others in calling on Myanmar to allow the Fact-Finding Mission immediate, full and unfettered access to all areas and interlocutors in Myanmar. If impunity is not thoroughly addressed, new or existing international mechanisms must be utilized to allow for independent and impartial examinations of the situation in Rakhine. A referral to the International Criminal Court must now be seriously considered.
Further Sweden is deeply concerned by the erosion of freedom of opinion and freedom of expression. We are long-standing supporters of independent and professional media in Myanmar and we now see how journalists and media workers are jailed and intimidated, with a chilling effect on reporting of current events.
Question: As a complement to the Fact-Finding Mission, Sweden fully supports the establishment of a IIIM mechanism as suggested by HC Zeid. In your view, what are the political and practical steps that need to be taken to enable the effective establishment of such a mechanism?
I thank you.