Two Myanmar Military Officers Join Int’l Criminal Justice Unit for ICJ Defense

By Htet Naing Zaw 27 November 2019

NAYPYITAW—Two military officers are among the members of the Myanmar government’s Special Unit on International Criminal Justice formed by the Ministry of the Office of the State Counselor on Tuesday.

The move comes as State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to travel to the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to lead Myanmar’s legal defense team in contesting a genocide case brought against the country over military operations in Rakhine State that caused more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.

According to the ministry’s statement dated Nov. 26, the Special Unit was formed “in order to strengthen internal capacity and expertise, and provide legal opinions to relevant ministries on issues related to international criminal law.”

The Special Unit will be led by the Union Attorney-General’s Office, according to the statement. It is comprised of legal experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Union Attorney-General’s Office and the Office of the Judge Advocate General.

“[The inclusion of the military officials] is at the government’s instruction. In the Special Unit on International Criminal Justice, two military officers are included and one of them is an expert on international law,” said military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun.

The move by both civilian and military experts to defend the country at the ICJ comes amid mounting international pressure on Myanmar to account for its handling of the Rohingya crisis.

On Nov. 11, The Gambia, on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, brought a genocide case against Myanmar at the court.

The ICJ has said it will hold the first public hearings in the case on Dec. 10-12.

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