GENEVA : The UN's top human rights body agreed on Thursday to set up a team to collect evidence of alleged crimes committed in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims and others since 2011, information that one day could be used to prosecute suspected perpetrators.

The 47-member Human Rights Council voted 35 - 3 to create an ''independent mechanism'' in essence, an accountability body to complement a fact-finding  mission the council previously authorised to help document alleged rights violations in Myanmar.

Unlike the fact-finding  mission, the mechanism has securing evidence that could be used in pursuing criminal indictments as its main purpose.

The resolution establishing the new team was presented jointly the European Union, led by Austria, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, led by Pakistan, China, Burundi and the Philippines opposed the measure.

Seven countries abstained from the vote.

Myanmar's ambassador in Geneva, Kyaw Moe Tun, criticised the resolution, saying it was based on a report issued by the fact-finding mission last month that was ''replete with unverified information''.

Thursday move paves the way for millions of dollars in UN funds to go towards collecting evidence of  alleged  wrongdoing  in Myanmar that UN-backed investigators said could amount to genocide and other wire crimes.

Passage of the resolution is likely to raise pressure on the military chiefs  and others who might come under investigation for alleged war crimes making them think twice before contemplating travel outside Myanmar and their possible arrest.

Human rights group applauded the resolution:

''Today's resolution is an important step forward in the fight for accountability in Myanmar, making the prospect of justice possible for the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities who have suffered atrocities at the hands of the country's security forces,'' said Tirana Hassan, crisis response director for Amnesty International. [AP]


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