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Burma: Human Rights

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is open to the UK to refer Burma to (a) the International Court of Justice and (b) another international body for persistent use of forced labour; and if he will make a statement. (164005)

There are provisions in the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which allow a state to pursue a complaint that another state has breached an ILO convention; this could ultimately lead to proceedings in the International Court of Justice. However, the Secretariat of the ILO believe that it would be wrong to start such action now in respect of forced labour in Burma. The ILO want to see the Memorandum of Understanding, that they signed with the Burmese government on 26 February 2007, produce results. The memorandum provides that alleged victims of forced labour in Burma will have full freedom to submit complaints to the ILO Liaison Officer in Rangoon.

We support the actions of the ILO aimed at ensuring that Burma complies with its international obligations on forced labour. We are actively working with our European and international partners, as well as through the UN and ILO, to press the regime to end the appalling human rights violations and to engage in a genuine process of national reconciliation involving all relevant parties and groups in Burma.