22 October 2009 – Tomas Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar regrets that his request to visit Myanmar was not accepted by the Government of Myanmar. Since the Special Rapporteur did not have the opportunity to discuss the progress of the implementation of the four core human rights elements, he reiterates them and reminds the Government that these four elements are part of its international human rights obligations, and are absolutely necessary to be completed in order for the seven-step road map to democracy to be credible and founded on internationally recognized democratic values, to which Myanmar has adhered as a State Member of the United Nations.
The Special Rapporteur has called on Myanmar’s Government to sign and ratify the remaining core international human rights instruments, expand the mandate of the Tripartite Core Group to include all other regions in Myanmar in need of humanitarian aid. Furthermore Myanmar is urged to take prompt measures to establish accountability for the widespread and systematic human rights violations and combat the prevailing impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators and to complete four core human rights elements indicated below before the elections in 2010.
1. Review of national legislation in accordance with the new Constitution and international obligations
The Special Rapporteur has recommended that the Government of Myanmar start reviewing and amending domestic laws that limit fundamental rights and contravene the new Constitution and international human rights standards.
The Special Rapporteur has identified a number of legal provisions that do not fulfil the above-mentioned requirements, and recommended that the Government start a process of review and, at the same time, stop arrests and convictions under those legal provisions.
2. Progressive release of prisoners of conscience
At present, there are more than 2,160 prisoners of conscience detained in Myanmar. These prisoners are denied basic human rights recognized in the new Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Given the fact that fundamental rights such as liberty and personal integrity are being affected in detention, the release of prisoners of conscience, even progressive, should start as soon as possible.
3. Armed forces
The Special Rapporteur recommends that a number of measures be adopted by the military and the police in order to improve the human rights situation in the country. In this regard, the military should repeal discriminatory legislation and avoid discriminatory practices, refrain from the recruitment of child soldiers, forbid the use of anti-personnel landmines, respect international human rights and humanitarian law, refrain from the use of forced labour of civilians, refrain from detaining individuals for alleged infringement of national laws that are under review and establish a permanent and meaningful training programme on human rights for members of the armed forces, police and prison forces, with international cooperation.
The Special Rapporteur stresses the lack of independency and impartiality of the judiciary in Myanmar, and recommends that a series of measures be taken. The judiciary has delivered hundreds of harsh sentences against prisoners of conscience, applying national legislation that might be contradictory to human rights standards, with disregard for judicial guarantees. The independence and impartiality of the judiciary remains an outstanding issue in Myanmar. Members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Head of State, due process of law is not fully respected, and the right to appeal, if granted, is handled by judges with similar constraints and lack of independence.
The Special Rapporteur reiterates his recommendations that the judiciary exercise full independence and impartiality, guarantee due process of law (including public hearings), refrain from charging and convicting individuals for alleged infringement of national laws that are under revision, establish effective judicial mechanisms to investigate human rights abuses, seek international technical assistance with a view to establishing an independent and impartial judiciary that is consistent with international standards and principles.
Full report: http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=A/64/318
Press release: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?ewsID=32679&Cr=myanmar&Cr1=