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Harvard report claims Burma comparable to Darfur

May 21, 2009 (DVB), Human rights atrocities in Burma are comparable to those of Darfur and Yugoslavia and should be addressed more thoroughly through a UN Security Council commission, said a report by the Harvard Law School.

Amid the furore that has erupted this week over the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, the report, entitled 'Crimes in Burma', maintains that the underreported situation for Burma's child soldiers and victims of forced labour and torture warrants significant attention from the UN Security Council (UNSG).

"For too many years, the world has done little to address these human rights abuses," the report states, adding that the UNSG has been more thorough with their investigations into Dafur, for example, despite elements of the situation in Burma being comparable.

'Crimes in Burma' proffers a Commission of Inquiry into Burma by the UN, which has so far relied on a special rapporteur as its main point of contact on human rights abuses.

"[The Commission of Inquiry] would be different from the special rapporteur which is one individual who comes not very often and doesn't have the same amount of resources that a [Commission] would have," said Tyler Giannini, Clinical Director from Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, who co-authored the report.

The purpose of the report, written by five prominent international judges, is to present a comprehensive study of UN documents on Burma to the UN Security Council.

The finding of the UN do not exclude the possibility that war crimes are taking place in Burma, said the report.

"So that means, in a legal perspective, that it triggers the possibility of international criminal law violations," Giannini said.

"Because [the reports] are using legal language such as 'widespread' and 'systematic', that means that they [the UNSC] should look and see if, in fact, these are violations on the level of war crimes."

Reporting by Rosalie Smith


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