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Volume 712: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of evidence presented to them of alleged abuses of human rights, crimes against humanity and genocidal acts committed by the Burmese military regime; and in what circumstances they would submit such evidence to the United Nations Security Council requesting referral to the International Criminal Court. [HL4526]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead)

We remain deeply concerned at the human rights situation in Burma. Over 2,100 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, continue to be detained. Political freedoms are completely absent and any dissent is brutally crushed. Treatment of Burma's ethnic groups is of particular concern.

Appalling human rights abuses are undoubtedly happening in Burma. However, as Burma is not a state party to the Rome statute, it would require a Chapter VII UN Security Council resolution to refer the situation in the country to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. In the past two years our efforts have helped to secure unprecedented Security Council action on Burma, in the form of two strongly worded presidential statements. It is, however, highly unlikely that the council would agree to pass a binding resolution on this issue. Our efforts to secure a non-binding resolution on Burma in 2007 were blocked by other members. We regularly test the degree of consensus as we seek Security Council action and strong resolutions in the Human Rights Council and General Assembly.