Tuesday, January 17, 2012

UN calls for further progress on human rights


Tuesday, 17 January 2012 12:47 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – The U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma on Monday welcomed the amnesty and release a significant number of prisoners of conscience.

U.N. special envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana reads a press statement while on a visit to Burma. Photo: Mizzima“I welcome the release of…individuals who have been imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights or whose fair trial or due process rights have been denied,” said Tomas Ojea Quintana.

While the exact number of prisoners released has yet to be determined, he said among those freed were individuals he had visited in jail.

“In this critical period for Myanmar, and in the lead-up to the by-elections in April, it is fundamental that all citizens, including those just released from prison, are allowed to play an active and constructive role in political and public life.”

“Based on lessons learnt from past elections, I call on the government to ensure respect for the rights to political participation and freedoms of opinion and expression, assembly and association – rights which are essential for the functioning of a democratic society.”

The special rapporteur also expressed concern that a number of prisoners of conscience remain in detention and called for their release without conditions and delay.

Separately, he expressed hope that there would be further progress in resolving political conflicts with armed ethnic groups throughout Burma and called on all parties involved to ensure the protection of civilians and respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.

“I renew my call on the government to develop a comprehensive plan to officially engage ethnic minority groups in an inclusive dialogue to resolve long-standing grievances and deep-rooted concerns,” Quintana said. “And all parties to this dialogue must ensure that investigations and accountability for past gross and systematic human rights violations are on the agenda. Ending discrimination and ensuring fundamental rights for Myanmar’s ethnic minorities is essential for national reconciliation and will contribute to Myanmar’s long-term political and social stability.”

He also called for unimpeded access for the UN and relevant actors to help address the crucial needs of ethnic groups and human rights issues in the country.

Quintana was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2008. As special rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

For more information on Burma human rights issues, see http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx

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