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France supports a Commission of Inquiry

By International Federation for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Info-Birmanie and French Human Rights League  •  September 22, 2010

FIDH, Human Rights Watch, Info-Birmanie and French Human Rights League demand the set-up of an international commission of inquiry

They welcome France’s statement and urge the EU to support this initiative at the UN General Assembly

During a press conference held on Wednesday 22 September in Paris, the organizations Info-Birmanie, Human Rights Watch, the French Human Rights League and FIDH unanimously welcomed the statement made by France supporting the establishment of a commission of inquiry on crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated in Burma. Isabelle Dubuis, Info-Birmanie’s coordinator, stated “this commission of inquiry is long overdue; its establishment would demonstrate the right to justice of the victims and would materialize the international community’s repeated calls to finally put an end to human rights abuses in Burma.” Jean-Marie Fardeau, Human Rights Watch France director “regrets that the European Union has not yet taken a public stand. We believe a joint EU position would be a strong signal sent to the others United Nations member states.” Souhayr Belhassen, President of the FIDH, reminded that “this commission is not only necessary to put an end to crimes but also awaited to bring justice to Burma.”

As the 2010 UN General Assembly has opened in New York, the French government has publicly stated its support to the set-up of an international commission of inquiry to investigate the numerous allegations of international crimes perpetrated in Burma. During the 15th session of the Human Rights Council, France’s permanent representative stated that: “Human rights are still systematically violated and France expressed its support for the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to establish an international commission of inquiry and urges the Burmese government to fully cooperate with the latter.”

In March 2010, M. Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar, characterized human rights violations committed in the country as being “widespread and systematic” and as being “the result of a State policy”.  His recommendation to the UN was to consider establishing the commission of inquiry on crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is the first time in twenty years that a senior UN official makes such a recommendation. His predecessor M. Pinheiro, who partook in the panel of the press conference, declared: “I am very pleased that France has joined this ‘group of honour’ of countries supporting the commission of inquiry”.

Since March, support in favour of this initiative has increased: several countries including the United States, Australia, Canada and European countries such as the Netherlands, Hungary and Czech Republic have declared their support for a UN international commission of inquiry. France is today the ninth country to take a public stand in favour of such a commission. In France, 60 MPs have urged the French government to publicly stand in favour of a commission of inquiry to put an end to the culture of impunity that has been spreading in Burma for decades and prevent the perpetration of new crimes and abuses.

The evidences gathered by different UN agencies and Burmese and international organizations are appalling: the destruction since 1996 of over 3500 villages, the overwhelming number of arbitrary killings, forced disappearances and rapes, the forced displacement of over a million people and the forced recruitment of dozens of thousands of child soldiers.

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This post is in: Crimes Against Humanity, Press Release

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