Excellent recommendations by Mr. Kofi Annan, Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State (Interim Report)

INTERIM REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS MARCH 2017

Reference: http://www.rakhinecommission.org/app/uploads/2017/03/Advisory-Commission-Interim-Report.pdf

As those are very good recommendations. I just extracted the recommendations only below.

Recommendations: ·

Interim Recommendations

1) HUMANITARIAN ACCESS

The Myanmar government and the Rakhine State government should allow full and unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas affected by recent 8 violence. The government, assisted by international partners, should ensure adequate assistance to all communities affected by the violence.

2) MEDIA ACCESS

Recommendation: · Myanmar authorities should provide full and regular access for domestic and international media to all areas affected by recent violence.

3) JUSTICE AND RULE OF LAW

Recommendation:  In light of the allegations of serious violations of human rights law, the government should – based on independent and impartial investigation – ensure that perpetrators of serious human rights violations are held accountable.

4) BORDER ISSUES AND THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP WITH BANGLADESH

Recommendations:  The Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh should strengthen bilateral ties by immediately activating a joint commission, consisting of senior political and security officials from both sides. The joint commission – which should meet at least every quarter – should address the following issues: 9 o Facilitate the voluntary return of refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar through joint verification, in accordance with international standards. o Establish a joint mechanism to combat human trafficking, drugs smuggling and illicit trade – as well as illegal practices enabling such activities. o Develop a joint strategy to address the issue of illegal migration. o Promote a joint strategy to revive cross-border trade and investment, with private sector participation, and re-open all legal border crossings. o Strengthen intelligence sharing and cooperation to combat terrorism.  When refugees from northern Rakhine State return from Bangladesh, the Government of Myanmar should help create a secure environment and, where necessary, assist with shelter construction for those whose homes have been destroyed.

5) SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Recommendations:  The Commission recommends that the Rakhine State government rapidly finalise and publicise the plan, which should be based on an inclusive approach that takes into consideration, and gives priority to, the needs of all local communities.  The Union government should carry out a comprehensive assessment (or a so-called strategic environment assessment) for Kyawkpyuh and its environs to explore how the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) may affect local 10 communities and map how other economic sectors in the state may benefit (or possibly suffer) from the SEZ.  The Commission recommends the fast-tracking of the following: o Vocational and technical training: The Government of Myanmar should develop a comprehensive plan for vocational and technical training in Rakhine, to be supported by international donors. The government should put special emphasis on skills training for women. o Education: Immediately expand primary education to the communities in the northern part of Rakhine State. o Health: The government should quickly finalize a plan for the expansion and refurbishment of Sittwe State Hospital, for the benefit of all communities and rapidly expand primary health care services in the southern and northern parts of Rakhine State (for instance through mobile health clinics).  The Union government and the Rakhine State government should ensure – and publicly state – that all communities have equal access to education, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, race, gender, or citizenship status. As such, the government should also reverse discriminatory policies that bar Muslim students from higher education.  The Union government and the Rakhine State government should ensure – and publicly state – that all communities have equal access to health treatment, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, race, gender, or citizenship status. The authorities should commence the removal of administrative obstacles that impede access to health care.  Both the Union government and Rakhine State government should encourage companies investing in Rakhine to give preference in hiring to the people from Rakhine State. The Commission commends the government for consulting with civil society during the development of the Rakhine State Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP). However, the dialogue with civil society needs to continue during the implementation period of the SEDP, and the government should seek to establish formal mechanisms to ensure regular and structured input from civil society.

6) TRAINING OF SECURITY FORCES

Recommendations:  The Government of Myanmar should – as an urgent measure – ensure comprehensive training for police and other security forces deployed in Rakhine, covering areas such as human rights and respect for cultural and religious diversity. International donors should support such efforts by providing technical and financial assistance. 11  The composition of the police force should reflect the population in all components, including women and minorities.

7) CITIZENSHIP AND FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

Recommendations:  Those verified as citizens should enjoy all benefits, rights and freedoms associated with citizenship. Consequently – and in line with the government’s rule-of-law agenda – all who have been identified as citizens should have full freedom of movement. This will demonstrate immediate tangible benefits of the verification exercise.  The Government of Myanmar should immediately establish a clear strategy and timeline for the citizenship verification process. This strategy should be transparent, efficient, and with a solid basis in existing legislation. The strategy should be discussed with members of the Rakhine and Muslim communities, and communicated through a broad outreach campaign. The strategy should include a clear timeline for the different stages of the process.  Complaints related to the on-going verification processes should be addressed swiftly by a government authority independent of the institutions responsible for the implementation of the verification processes.  The Government of Myanmar should ensure that children and descendants of citizens do not have to go through the National Verification Card process (a preparatory step towards the citizenship process for undocumented people) but qualify automatically to apply for citizenship.  The Rakhine and Muslim communities should work constructively with the government to revitalize the citizenship verification process.

B. Freedom of Movement:

Recommendation:  The Government of Myanmar should initiate a process to map all existing restrictions on movement in Rakhine, covering all communities. Such an exercise should also investigate and determine additional travel costs generated by informal payments to allow passage.

C. Birth Certificates

Recommendation:  The Commission recommends that the Government of Myanmar roll out a comprehensive birth registration campaign – with door-to-door visits carried out by mobile teams – in order to reach all children. International actors (including the United Nations and donors) should assist such efforts technically and financially in accordance with needs.

8) CLOSURE OF IDP CAMPS

Recommendations:  The Government of Myanmar should prepare a comprehensive strategy towards closing all IDP camps in Rakhine State. The strategy should be developed through a consultation process with affected communities, and 13 contain clear timelines. It should also contain plans for the provision of security and livelihood opportunities at the site of return/relocation.  More immediately, as a first step and sign of goodwill, the Government of Myanmar should facilitate the return and relocation of IDPs from the following the three locations mentioned below, in view of the established feasibility and safety of their return. It should also establish a designated security unit to ensure the safety of returnees and the neighbouring communities. o 55 Kaman Muslim households still displaced in Ramree. The Government of Myanmar should support shelter reconstruction in their original villages, and inform and prepare the Rakhine community for their return. o 215 Muslim households from Min That Phar village, currently living in Kyein Ni Pyin camp. The government should support the construction of individual houses for the returnees, and take the appropriate measures to facilitate reintegration into local communities. o Approximately 65 Rakhine households from Ka Nyin Taw who are ready to move to an already identified relocation site. The government should provide additional funds to provide the necessary infrastructure.

9) CULTURAL ISSUES

Recommendation:  As a first step, pending a comprehensive mapping of all cultural and historical sites in Rakhine, the Government of Myanmar should officially declare its intention to propose Mrauk U as candidate for the status as a UNESCO world heritage site. The government should work closely with UNESCO and local communities to ensure that formal criteria are fulfilled, with international donor support.

10) INTER-COMMUNAL DIALOGUE

Recommendations:  The Government of Myanmar – both at the Union and State level – should publicly encourage inter-communal harmony and encourage dialogue, and proactively dispel misinformation about different communities.  The Government of Myanmar should forcefully denounce all kinds of hate speech, and hold perpetrators accountable. Political, religious and community leaders should be echoing this message.  Rakhine and Muslims are encouraged to establish joint markets (“friendly bazars) – accessible to both Rakhines and Muslims – and the Government of Myanmar should proactively support and facilitate such efforts.

11) REPRESENTATION AND PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC LIFE

Recommendations:  As an immediate step, the government should establish consultative mechanisms which give voice to the state’s Muslim inhabitants.  The government should allow Muslims in Muslim-majority villages and village tracts to become village administrators.

12) REGIONAL RELATIONS

Recommendations:  The government should continue its initiative to brief ASEAN members on a regular basis on the broader dimensions and regional implications of the situation in Rakhine State. The Government of Myanmar should maintain a special envoy to engage with neighbouring countries on this issue.

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