The European Union will start preparing sanctions against Myanmar generals over killings of Rohingya Muslims by formally calling on the bloc's foreign policy chief next week to draw up a list of possible names, two diplomats said.
Any new travel bans and asset freezes would be the EU's toughest measures yet to try to hold the military accountable for the abuses, likely joining US and Canadian sanctions already in place.
"Ministers will call on (Federica) Mogherini to propose restrictive measures on senior members of the Myanmar military for systematic human rights abuses, without delay," one diplomat said yesterday, referring to EU sanctions.
Foreign ministers will also ask Mogherini and the EU's foreign service, the EEAS, on Monday to look at ways to strengthen the bloc's 1990s-era arms embargo on the Southeast Asian country that remains in place.
In a statement expected to be released on Monday at a regular gathering of EU foreign ministers, the bloc is also expected to reiterate its call for the release of Reuters reporters detained on December 12 over accusations that they violated Myanmar's Official Secrets Act.
The two had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men who were buried in a mass grave in Rakhine state after being hacked to death or shot by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist neighbours and soldiers.
No names of generals to be targeted for sanctions have been yet discussed, the diplomats said, but the United States said in December it was sanctioning Major General Maung Maung Soe, who is accused of a crackdown on the Rohingya minority in Rakhine.