PRESS RELEASE—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A D.C.-based think tank is launching a groundbreaking initiative to explore innovative legal mechanisms for the Rohingya, an ethnic group in Myanmar that has suffered decades of persecution.
The Center for Global Policy (CGP) has established the Rohingya Legal Forum, a small group of leading international jurists – including Rohingya jurists – to determine the best courses of action to address what some have called the genocide of the Rohingya.
Some 80-85% of the world’s Rohingya live outside their homeland in northwestern Myanmar. Those remaining in Myanmar are subjected to ongoing deprivations and persecution. The Myanmar state’s actions against the Rohingya, which have damaged countless individual human beings and the group as a whole, are widely thought to include international crimes. However, as a result of the long and systematic violations of their rights, the Rohingya lack material means and qualified specialist advocates. Very few Rohingya lawyers have advanced knowledge or experience of the practice of international law. The Rohingya Legal Forum is designed to fill that gap. Dr. Azeem Ibrahim, director at the CGP, is forming the Rohingya Legal Forum and serving as its chair. Professor John Packer of the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, will convene the forum.
On the need for such a forum, founder Dr. Ibrahim said, “The Rohingya have been suffering through decades of manifest persecution at the hands of the Myanmar State. This forum is being formed to exchange views, map alternative recourses, consider a strategy, and research innovative legal courses of action.”
The forum is expected to convene as soon as possible and exist for as long as it is useful. The group anticipates collaborating with international bodies like the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the International Criminal Court, and relevant governments and NGOs. In addition, the forum anticipates producing periodic research that will be published as memos, special reports, essays, op-eds and journal articles.
Rohingya Legal Forum members include Sareta Ashraph, a former chief legal analyst on the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria; Professor Payam Akhavan, former U.N. prosecutor at The Hague; Allan Rock, former attorney general of Canada and ambassador to the United Nations, and professor of international humanitarian law and armed conflict in international law at the University of Ottawa; and Djaouida Siaci, international lawyer and vice president of the Rohingya Support Group.
CGP is formally launching the Rohingya Legal Forum with an event at the think tank’s Washington, D.C., office on Monday, Nov. 4. “The International Court of Justice and the Duty to Prevent and Punish the Rohingya Genocide” will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at 1776 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 120. The keynote speaker will be Ambassador David Scheffer, the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes and architect of the Yugoslav Tribunal.