'Positive signals' from Myanmar Government show progress in human rights, UN reports

1 October 2001

A new United Nations report says there have been some "positive signals" in Myanmar indicating the Government's efforts to make progress in its human rights record.

According to a report by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, his first as Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, those efforts include the dissemination of human rights standards for public officials, progress by the governmental Committee on Human Rights and releases of political detainees.

Other government moves welcomed in the report include reopening branches of the National League for Democracy (NLD) - the main opposition party - the continued international monitoring of prison conditions, and cooperation with the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteur says significant improvement is still needed most for vulnerable groups, including children, women and ethnic minorities and, in particular, those among them who have become internally displaced in zones of military operations. "Overall, there exists a complex humanitarian situation in Myanmar, which may decline unless it is properly addressed by all concerned," he writes.

In his report, which covers events from the beginning of the year through mid-August, the Special Rapporteur says he is "convinced" that the present moment in Myanmar seems to favour a consistent strategy that may allow different actors in and outside the country to work towards the same goals. He adds that it would be "most beneficial" if the international community could temporarily renounce any aggravation of economic sanctions and, instead, try to evaluate the effect of sanctions on the most vulnerable groups of the Myanmar population.

With a sizeable number of political prisoners still in detention, many serving long terms, the Special Rapporteur stresses again that only the full release of such individuals will pave the way to national reconciliation and the establishment of the rule of law leading towards the democratization process. "No transitional process can be effective without the release of all political prisoners," he says.

The Special Rapporteur also urges the Government to ratify or adhere to core human rights treaties - including the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which concerns the involvement of children in armed conflict and the recruitment of child soldiers - as well as to continue its cooperation on the issue of forced labour.

 

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