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UN human rights expert urges Myanmar to allow credible probe of alleged abuses

UN human rights expert urges Myanmar to allow credible probe of alleged abuses

Wrapping up a 10-day fact-finding mission to Myanmar, a United Nations expert today urged the country’s authorities to allow a credible investigation of allegations that the military and armed groups committed widespread human rights violations in ethnic minority areas.

Calling in particular for a probe of charges relating to sexual violence in Shan State, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, proposed that the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) consider allowing an adequate presence of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) “in all conflict areas” of the country.

“The ICRC could then assess the humanitarian situation on an on-going basis, report confidentially to the authorities and work out with them appropriate measures to ensure the security and protection of the civilian population wherever needed,” Mr. Pinheiro said.

He also called for a probe of the alleged forced conscription of child soldiers in Myanmar.

During his stay in the country, which began on 17 October, the Special Rapporteur met with a number of senior officials as well as members of the governmental Human Rights Committee. Mr. Pinheiro also visited the Insein Central Prison, where he confidentially interviewed over a dozen inmates, including several recent political prisoners and those whom he had met during his previous visit to Myanmar in February.

In addition, the Special Rapporteur met with leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), as well as representatives of other political parties, the UN country team, the diplomatic community, international civil society organizations, the international and local business community, as well as religious leaders and recently released political prisoners.

The Special Rapporteur travelled to a several different parts of the country, meeting with civilian and military authorities, visiting police offices and lock-ups, and interviewing prisoners. He said he received “full cooperation” from the Myanmar Government, and plans to report his findings to the UN General Assembly on 6 November.