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(New York) - The United Nations should not delay the setting up of an international inquiry to address possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma, Human Rights Watch said today. On March 15, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, presented his progress report on human rights in Burma for debate at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a statement at the Council, Human Rights Watch welcomed the recommendation by the UN special rapporteur to consider establishing a commission of inquiry with a specific fact-finding mandate to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

"The United Nations should establish this commission without delay as a vital first step towards justice for the many victims of serious abuses in Burma," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "Failing to act on the Rapporteur's recommendation for accountability in Burma will only embolden rights abusers and further postpone long-overdue justice."

During the Human Rights Council's debate, the Australian government stated it would support "investigating possible options for a United Nations commission of inquiry" on Burma. The United States government said the call for accountability serves "to underscore the seriousness of the human rights problems in the country, and the pressing need for the international community to find an effective way to address challenges there."

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