The Rohingya have been suffering a “slow-burning genocide” through decades of manifest persecution at the hands of the Myanmar State which has caused extreme damage to the Rohingya individually and as a whole. It is widely believed that the acts against them include international crimes. As a result, today some 80-85% of the world’s Rohingya live outside their homeland in Arakan/Rakhine State, northwestern Myanmar; they suffer largely as refugees – dispersed in a number of countries – while those remaining in Myanmar are subjected to ongoing deprivations and persecution. As a result of the long and systematic violations of their rights, the Rohingya lack material means and qualified specialist advocates; they must rely upon others. Almost none of the relatively few Rohingya lawyers have advanced knowledge or experience of the practice of international law. In the light of the above, a small group of international jurists (including some Rohingya jurists) has been formed to exchange views, map the alternative recourses, consider a strategy, and offer advice and assistance on the most effective courses of action. The Rohingya Legal Forum will coordinate and collaborate, where necessary, with the likes of the OIC, UN, ICC, ICJ and relevant governments.
The Rohingya Legal Forum project brings together a group of jurists who are experts in the matter of the Rohingya in order to foster collaboration and efficiency in developing applicable ideas to address the situation at hand in order to bring more awareness and effective policy change to the situation.
Founding members of the Rohingya Legal Forum include :
- Prof. John Packer, Convenor of the forum – Professor of Law and Director of the HRREC at the University of Ottawa
- Prof. David Scheffer, first U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes
- Sareta Ashraph, a former chief legal analyst on the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria
- Prof. Allan Rock, former attorney general of Canada and ambassador to the United Nations
- Djaouida Siaci, international lawyer and vice president of the Rohingya Support Group
- Dr. Azeem Ibrahim, Director of Displacement and Migration at the Center for Global Policy
The forum is expected to convene as much 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. Publications will discuss research and develop innovative mechanisms for legal recourse for the Rohingya genocide.