Canada urged to support UN inquiry into crimes in Burma
12 August 2010: Canada is under pressure from domestic and international rights groups to add its voice to ongoing international calls for possible institution of a UN Commission of Inquiry into alleged international crimes committed by the ruling military regime of Burma.
The Ottawa-based Canadian Friends of Burma (CFOB) and London-based Burma Campaign UK yesterday issued a joint statement calling on the Canadian government to add its voice to a growing international demand for justice and accountability in the military-ruled Southeast Asian country.
“It is very surprising that Canada has not publicly stated that it supports the recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur for a Commission of Inquiry,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of London-based Burma Campaign UK.
In a groundbreaking report in March this year, the UN rights expert Thomas Quintana suggested that human rights violations in Burma could constitute indictable crimes under international law and called for the world body to consider the possibility of instituting a Commission of Inquiry mandated with the power to investigate those crimes.
The Argentinean lawyer is set to submit his report on rights conditions in Burma later this year to the UN General Assembly. The Burmese military regime has recently turned down his request to visit the country. Instead, he recently held meetings with several Burma rights groups in Thailand as part of a fact-finding process for his upcoming report to the world body.
73 members of the Canadian Parliament from both houses have already endorsed a petition calling on the Canadian Government to formally support the move although the ruling Conservative government has not responded to the call.
“The Government of Canada, especially Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon should respond to this important call,” challenged Tin Maung Htoo, Executive Director of Ottawa-based Canadian Friends of Burma. He said that the support of the Commission of Inquiry would add to existing political pressures maintained by Canada against the ruling military regime.
Canada maintains some of the most stringent unilateral sanctions on Burma.
So far Australia, the UK, Czech Republic and Slovakia have publicly expressed support for the Commission of Inquiry.