A high-level team from the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) left for Myanmar today for a three-week assessment of the Government's actions concerning forced labour.
In a statement issued in Geneva, the ILO said the team would spend the first few days in meetings in the capital, Yangon, before travelling to various places around the country to investigate the situation.
"This is the first time that the ILO has had an opportunity to travel around the country to make its own direct assessment of the forced labour situation," the statement said, adding that the team's mandate was to assess the impact on that situation of legislative, executive and administrative measures announced by the Government in response to previous ILO action.
The team's establishment, which was agreed in May and considered by the International Labour Conference at its June 2001 session, is a new and significant development which follows a series of steps taken by the ILO to secure compliance by Myanmar with its obligations under the agency's Convention No. 29, of 1930, on forced labour.
Under the terms of the understanding reached with the Myanmar authorities in May, the team will have full discretion to establish a programme of such contacts and visits as it considers appropriate across the country.
The Myanmar authorities have made a solemn commitment through the team to the international community that no action of any kind will be taken against persons or their families, or organizations that may contribute information to the team or assist it in its work, nor will the authorities seek to identify such persons, the ILO said. The team has itself also put in place certain precautionary measures as regards persons whom it may wish to contact.
The team's report will be considered by the ILO Governing Body when it meets in Geneva in November.