jueves, 21 de mayo de 2009

nternational Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School World’s Leading Jurists Call for Investigation into Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes

New report from Harvard Law School finds that UN documents on Burma provide grounds for investigation into international crimes; calls for more concerted UN action on Burma

Cambridge, Mass. – Five of the world’s leading international jurists have commissioned a report from the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, calling for the UN Security Council to act on more than fifteen years of condemnation from other UN bodies on human rights abuses in Burma. The Harvard report, Crimes in Burma, comes in the wake of renewed international attention on Burma, with the continued persecution of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi. The report concludes with a call for the UN Security Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

The Harvard report is based on an analysis of scores of UN documents – including UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions, as well as reports from several different Special Rapporteurs. These indicate that human rights abuses in Burma are widespread, systematic, and part of state policy – legal terms that justify further investigation and strongly suggest Burma’s military regime may be committing crimes against humanity and war crimes prosecutable under international law. Major abuses cited by the United Nations include forced displacement of over 3,000 villages in eastern Burma, and widespread and systematic sexual violence, torture, and summary execution of innocent civilians.

Yet, despite such documentation from multiple UN organs, the UN Security Council has not moved to investigate potential crimes against humanity or war crimes in Burma, as it has in other areas of the world, including Darfur and Rwanda.

“Over and over again, UN resolutions and Special Rapporteurs have spoken out about the abuses that have been reported to them in Burma. The UN Security Council, however, has not moved the process forward as it should and has in similar situations such as those in the former Yugoslavia and Darfur,” the jurists write in the report’s preface. “In the cases of Yugoslavia and Darfur, once aware of the severity of the problem, the UN Security Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the gravity of the violations further. With Burma, there has been no such action from the UN Security Council despite being similarly aware of the widespread and systematic nature of the violations.”

The five jurists who commissioned the report, from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South Africa, are Judge Richard Goldstone (South Africa), Judge Patricia Wald (United States), Judge Pedro Nikken (Venezuela), Judge Ganzorig Gombosuren (Mongolia), and Sir Geoffrey Nice (United Kingdom). Among other accomplishments, Judge Goldstone served on South Africa’sConstitutional Court and was the first prosecutor at both the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. Judge Wald served as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Judge Nikken served as President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Judge Gombosuren served as a Supreme Court Justice in Mongolia, and Sir Nice was the deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the principal prosecution trial attorney in the case against Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague.

Each of the five jurists has dealt directly with severe human rights abuses in the international system, and all five call for the UN Security Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report on crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma.

The Harvard report specifically examines four international human rights violations documented by UN bodies over the past fifteen years: sexual violence, forced displacement, torture, and extrajudicial killings. The report focuses on UN documents since 2002, to allow examination of the most up-to-date UN material, although UN reports dating back to 1992 have consistently condemned a wide-range of violations in Burma.

Tyler Giannini, the Clinical Director of the Human Rights Program at HarvardLaw School and one of the report’s authors, said its findings clearly demonstrate that a Commission of Inquiry on Burma should proceed.

“The UN Security Council has taken action regarding Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sudan when it identified information strongly suggesting the existence of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” said Giannini. “As our research shows, UN documents clearly and authoritatively suggest that the human rights abuses occurring in Burma are not isolated incidents – they are potential crimes against humanity and war crimes. Failure by the UN Security Council to take action and investigate these crimes could mean that violations of international criminal law will go unchecked.”

For more information on Crimes in Burma, or to view a copy of the report, visit http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp/newsid=59.html.