A United Nations independent human rights expert today welcomed a presidential decree in Myanmar granting amnesty to a number of prisoners of conscience, while reiterating his call for the release of all such prisoners.
“I am encouraged by the momentum of reform and the gradual steps taken by the Government towards national reconciliation,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, in a news release. “However, I renew my call for the immediate and systematic release of all prisoners of conscience without conditions.”
According to media reports, on Tuesday, Myanmar released some 46 prisoners under an order by President Thein Sein. However, hundreds more are reportedly still imprisoned.
Mr. Ojea Quintana stressed the need for a comprehensive and thorough investigation to clarify records of remaining prisoners of conscience and called on the Government to start consultations with all stakeholders to gather relevant information.
In March, Mr. Ojea Quitnana had urged the Government of Myanmar to take an “active approach” to protecting human rights in the country and committing to implementing reforms to ensure lasting peace and reconciliation.
The Special Rapporteur, who has repeatedly called for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, had said he was disturbed about discrepancies in the numbers of remaining prisoners, and urged that a “comprehensive and thorough investigation be undertaken to clarify records and determine accurate numbers.”
Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.