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Sunday, February 05, 2012

UN Envoy warns Burma to guarantee basic human rights

UN Envoy warns Burma to guarantee basic human rights

By Zin Linn Feb 06, 2012 1:03AM UTC

The Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana released a press statement Sunday at Rangon International Airport, Burma. He concluded his six-day mission to Burma (Myanmar) and the current trip was his fifth visit to the country since he was appointed Special Rapporteur in March 2008.

During the mission, he met with the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Border Affairs, the Attorney-General, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Union Election Commission, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy Minister of Information, the Deputy Minister of Education, the Deputy Minister of Labour, as well as the Speaker and several members of the Pyi Thu Hluttaw, Quintana stated in his press release which appeared in the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) Yangon website.

He also said that during his talks in Nay Pyi Taw he met with some of the Presidential Advisors and representatives of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, as well as with members of the various Government and Parliamentary peacemaking groups, including the Minister of Rail Transportation.

In Rangoon (Yangon), he had met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and made productive exchange of views.

Moreover, he met with members of the recently-established National Human Rights Commission and discussed a range of human rights issues. Additionally, Quintana met with three prisoners of conscience in Insein Prison, as well as with released prisoners of conscience, including members of the 88 Generation Students Group.

He also travelled to Karen and Mon States and met with the respective Chief Ministers and representatives of state government, as well as ethnic parties in state parliaments. He concluded his mission receiving a brief talk with the diplomatic community.

Quintana underlined many important legislative reforms which are on the move, including the adoption of the Labour Organizations Law, the Peaceful Demonstration and Gathering Law and the amendment to the Political Party Registration Law.

He said that he was also informed about the process of drafting a revised Prisons Act, a new media law – the Printing Press and Publications Law and new social security law were presently on the move.

He expressed his concerns regarding some of the provisions in the newly-adopted legislation, particularly the Peaceful Demonstration and Gathering Law, the Printing Press and Publications Law.

Quintana said that he worried about lack of adequate consultation with relevant stakeholders, including civil society, on some of the draft laws being prepared.

In his press statement, Special Rapporteur expressed the ongoing tensions and conflict with armed ethnic groups in border areas, particularly in Kachin State. He said that he received continuing allegations of serious human rights violations committed during conflict, including attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, internal displacement, land confiscations, the use of human shields, the recruitment of child soldiers, as well as forced labour and portering. However, he did not fail to emphasize that he received reports of violations being committed by all parties to the conflict.

One important thing in his Sunday statement was that Quintana called the upcoming by-elections on 1 April as a key test of the Government’s obligation to reforms.

According to Quintana, polls are essential to be free, fair, inclusive and transparent. During his meeting with the Union Election Commission, he was informed that the use of international observers was under consideration. In last November 2010 elections, international poll-watchers were not allowed.

Furthermore, he pointed out to take lessons from the 2010 elections. Problems such as the high cost of registration, the use of advance votes, and the procedures and costs for filing a complaint should be addressed as a matter of priority.

Quintana basically reminded the authorities to respect and guarantee for the freedoms of expression, assembly and association which are basic citizen’s rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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