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Congressman Crowley Applauds Administration’s Support of the Establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes in Burma

By US Congressman Joseph Crowley  •  August 18, 2010

Today, Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) issued the statement below praising the Obama Administration’s announcement that it would support the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into possible crimes against humanity carried out by Burma’s military junta regime. Congressman Crowley, a long-time advocate for human rights in Burma, initiated efforts in Congress calling for the Administration to support an investigation into crimes in Burma in the summer of 2009.

“It is long overdue that the world acknowledges that the Burmese regime is guilty of heinous and brutal acts against its own people and I applaud today’s announcement by the Obama Administration of its support for a Commission of Inquiry into these crimes.

“Burma’s military regime has destroyed or forced the abandonment of 3,500 villages, raped countless ethnic minority women and recruited thousands of child soldiers. Millions of innocent civilians have fled their homes as refugees or internally displaced persons.

“These atrocities are far more than human rights abuses – they are crimes against humanity, punishable under international law. And, unfortunately, without strong international action, it is likely that the regime will continue to commit crimes against humanity, especially against Burma’s ethnic minorities.

“I spearheaded the call for the Administration to take a definitive stand in support of the UN investigator’s call for an international investigation because it is time for the global community to act.

“Today’s move brings us one step closer to delivering the justice the Burmese people rightfully deserve, but the fight does not end here. Burma’s regime must stop its brutal campaign against its own people, enact human rights reforms and free Burma’s legitimate leaders from prison. It is time for other nations to join the United States’ call for an international investigation to bring Burma’s brutal regime to justice.”

Congressman Crowley has a long track-record advocating for human rights in Burma, most recently spearheading the effort to award Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal, securing passage of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act, and leading a House resolution continuing a ban on all imports from Burma as part of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act. Congressman Crowley is a six-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives who sits on the Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. He is also a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

BACKGROUND

A Commission of Inquiry is led by a group of legal or international experts, charged by an international body such as the United Nations Secretariat or UN Security Council, which investigates certain human rights abuses. A Commission may determine whether certain human rights abuses are carried out in way such that they could be considered crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide – atrocities which are illegal and prosecutable under international law. If a Commission of Inquiry concluded that the Burmese regime committed or may have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide, it could result in international legal action such as the creation of a criminal tribunal or a referral to an international court. Without the creation of a Commission or similar investigation, it is much less likely that perpetrators could be prosecuted under international law and officials could continue to carry out abuses with impunity.

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This post is in: Press Release

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