Sunday, 14 March 2010

UN Myanmar expert says some government rights violations may be war crimes

Amelia Mathias at 3:11 PM ET

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[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomás Ojea Quintana released a report [text, PDF] Friday castigating the government of Myanmar for long-standing human rights abuses and said some of those might qualify as war crimes prosecutable by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Quintana observed:
there is a pattern of gross and systematic violation of human rights which has been in place for many years and still continues. The human rights that are part of this pattern are broad ranging and include the rights to life, to liberty, to personal integrity, to freedom of expression, assembly and religion, to judicial remedy and due process of law, to nationality, to protection of civilians and internally displaced communities and to prohibition against discrimination, among others.

Given the gross and systematic nature of human rights violations in Myanmar over a period of many years, and the lack of accountability, there is an indication that those human rights violations are the result of a State policy that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels. According to consistent reports, the possibility exists that some of these human rights violations may entail categories of crimes against humanity or war crimes under the terms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Myanmar is expected to hold elections in October.

Myanmar has a long history of human rights abuses. The UN released a report Thursday stating that the elections expected in October will not meet international standards of fairness. Earlier this week, the military junta enacted [Al Jazeera report] five laws to govern the upcoming election and has been publicly announcing them one-at-a-time in state-run newspapers. One of the most notable ramifications of the new laws is that Suu Kyi will be prevented from participating in the election unless she is released from prison. The new law would also prevent Suu Kyi from remaining as the head of the NLD if the party wishes to participate in the election.

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