The United Nations' Human Rights Council has replaced the chairwoman of a team investigating allegations of killings and rape by Myanmar's security forces, it said yesterday, amid concerns over her perceived bias.
Indian Supreme Court advocate Indira Jaising was initially named to chair the fact-finding mission, which has a focus on the western state of Rakhine that is home to the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority.
Council president Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli had decided to replace Jaising with Marzuki Darusman, a former attorney-general of Indonesia who has previously conducted rights investigations on North Korea, the council said in a statement from its headquarters in Geneva.
Jaising was appointed to lead the panel in May, after a resolution passed by the Human Rights Council in March calling for a team to be sent to look into the abuse claims.
The panel's two other members, Harvard-trained Sri Lankan lawyer Radhika Coomaraswamy and Australian consultant Christopher Dominic Sidoti, remain in place.
Myanmar has said it will refuse visas to the commissioners, arguing the mission would aggravate tension in Rakhine.
"As in all such cases, the mission will make it a priority to reach out to and engage constructively with the government and other relevant interlocutors," the council said.
"The Human Rights Council reiterates its hope that the government of Myanmar will grant the mission unfettered access to affected areas."