Burma: EU Should Endorse International War Crimes Inquiry

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Burma: EU Should Endorse International War Crimes Inquiry

Raise Commission of Inquiry in UN Resolution on Burma

BRUSSELS - European Union member states should publicly support the
establishment of an international Commission of Inquiry into war crimes
and crimes against humanity in Burma ahead of the United Nations General
Assembly in September, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to EU
foreign ministers today.

Human Rights Watch urged the EU to include a Commission of Inquiry in
the draft resolution on Burma for the General Assembly. Such a move
follows up on the March 2010 statement
by the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea
Quintana, calling on the UN to consider the possibility of establishing a
Commission of Inquiry into crimes in violation of international law
committed in Burma.

"Ritually condemning Burma in annual General Assembly resolutions is
no longer enough," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights
Watch. "The UN needs to raise the price for continuing abuses by
starting to investigate them."

In support of Quintana's call, the European Parliament on May 20
passed a resolution
on Burma calling on the EU High Representative and member states to
publicly support the UN's establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on
Burma and to include this request in the General Assembly's draft
resolution on Burma at the upcoming session.

Some EU member states, as well as the government of Australia, have
already publicly pledged their support for an international commission
for Burma.

The June 2010 Kampala Declaration resulting from the Review
Conference of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
(ICC), reiterated the commitment of 111 ICC member states "to put an end
to impunity for perpetrators of the most serious crimes of
international concern." EU states, which are all members of the ICC,
should demonstrate that commitment by taking a leading role in pushing
for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to
investigate abuses by all parties amounting to war crimes and possible
crimes against humanity in Burma, Human Rights Watch said.

For years UN special mechanisms, Human Rights Watch, and others have
documented and publicly reported on serious, widespread, and systemic
violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Burma.
There have been 19 resolutions on Burma in the UN General Assembly alone
since 1992.

Human Rights Watch also released today an extensive Q & A that addresses
various issues relating to accountability for crimes in violation of
international law in Burma.

"Continuing business as usual in Burma will only embolden rights
abusers" Roth said. "Establishing an international Commission of Inquiry
would be an important first step towards bringing abusers to justice
and ending impunity in Burma."

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Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

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