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UN calls for war crimes investigation in Burma
A senior UN official has called for Burma's military rulers to beinvestigated over allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated against Burmese civilians, in a move that will sharply increase pressure on the isolated regime ahead of controversialnational elections due later this year.
In a draft report to the UN Human Rights Council [pdf] in Geneva, Tomás Ojea Quintana, special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, described "a pattern of gross andsystematic violation of human rights" which he said has been in place for many years and still continued.
"There is an indication that those human rights violations are the result of a state policythat involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels," he said.
The draft, published on the council's website, goes on: "The possibility exists that some of these [violations]may entail categories of crimes against humanity, or war crimes, under the terms of the statute of the international criminal court."
In this context, Quintana said the UN security council shouldconsider setting up a "commission of inquiry with a specific, fact-finding mandate to address the question of international crimes".
The unusually tough assessment came as the junta today published atranche of new electoral laws that restrict the ability of opposition parties to participate in the coming elections.
The special rapporteur said national elections, expected in October, provided anopportunity for positive change, but he was pessimistic that the junta would allow the chance to be seized.
"During his last mission [in February], the special rapporteur received no indication that allprisoners of conscience will be released, that freedom of opinion and association will be guaranteed in the context of these elections, and that ethnic communities will be able to fully participate,"...
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