An independent United Nations expert will assess the human rights situation in Myanmar starting next week, it was announced, following increasing concerns about civilians in Kachin State and the escalating violence in Rakhine State.
“The events of the last few months have shown that the international community must remain vigilant in monitoring the human rights situation there,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country.
The 12-day visit, at the invitation of the Government, will include meetings political and community leaders, civil society, as well as victims of human rights violations and members of the international community.
Starting on 9 January, this will be Ms. Lee's fifth visit to Myanmar. She plans to visit Myitkyina, Hpakant and Laiza in Kachin State, where civilians are caught in fighting between the Myanmar army and an armed group.
“The escalation in fighting in Kachin and Shan, with its inevitable negative impact on the situation of civilians, is causing some disquiet regarding the direction that the new Government is taking in its first year of administration,” Ms. Lee said.
She will also gather information in Sittwe, Rathedaung, Buthidaung and Maungdaw in Rakhine State, as well as Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon.
Last month, the top UN human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said that he was deeply disappointed by a lack of access to some of the worst areas in northern Rakhine, particularly given numerous alarming allegations of rights violations, including killings, rapes and the burning of homes belonging to the Rohingya minority group.
A report from the visit will be presented in March to the UN Human Rights Council, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system. Ms. Lee's position is honorary and she does not receive a salary for her work.