UN Envoy urges Burma to guarantee basic human rightsBy Zin Linn Feb 06, 2012 1:03AM UTC
The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, released a press statement Sunday at Yangon International Airport, Burma. He concluded his six-day mission to Burma (Myanmar), 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 and the Union Election Commission, among others.
He also met with opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
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, 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.
He said that he received continuing allegations of serious human rights violations committed during ethnic conflicts, 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 in the conflict.
He added that the upcoming by-elections on April 1 were a key test of the Government’s obligation to reforms.
According to Quintana, polls must be free, fair, inclusive and transparent. During his meeting with the Union Election Commission, he was said the use of international observers was under consideration.
Referring to the 2010 elections, he said 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 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.