Thursday, May 31, 2012

Burmese gov’t allows torture with impunity: report

Thursday, 31 May 2012 14:04 ND-Burma

The Burmese government continues to commit human rights abuses including torture and inhumane treatment with impunity, according to a new report by ND-Burma, a network for human rights documentation.

From January to December 2011, ND-Burma said its member organizations documented 371 cases of human rights violation across the country of which 83 cases, or 22 per cent, constituted torture and ill treatment.

Torture and ill treatment in Burma take place in two distinct places: (1) in detention centers where political prisoners are interrogated and held, and (2) in ethnic nationality areas where the Burmese military is present, said the report “Extreme Measures,” which was issued this week.

The study found that torture of political prisoners generally takes place shortly after an individual is arrested during interrogations.

“It can, along with ill treatment, continue for years – even decades – while political prisoners serve inordinately long sentences,” it said.

In ethnic nationality areas, it said torture seldom takes place in formal detention centers but is meted out in military bases or remote rural villages.

“Shan State and Kachin states are particularly hard hit. Evidence gathered by ND-Burma shows that torture and ill-treatment in ethnic areas often takes place within the context of other human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, forced labor, forced portering, confiscation of property, restriction of movement, and sexual violence.”

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Burmese government and the international community.

It called for the adoption of legislation guaranteeing basic rights for the people of Burma, particularly the internationally recognized right to be free from torture and ill treatment, and laws that ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes face justice.

There are also calls for more education, training and public awareness about torture in order to prevent future violations as well as calls to institute safeguards and programs that guarantee that victims have available, credible, accessible remedies to deal with torture should it take place, it said.

The report also raises concerns regarding the new National Human Rights Commission, including its lack of full independence, its inability to investigate crimes committed by the military, and its failure to comply fully with best practices for national human rights commissions as described in the Paris Principles.

Torture and ill treatment have a ripple effect, said ND-Burma, with potentially long lasting negative consequences for individuals, families and society as a whole.

It said the report should serve as a reminder to Burmese government and the international community that significant hurdles remain for Burma to emerge as a functioning democracy that respects the rule of law and the rights of the people of Burma, particularly ethnic nationalities.

– For more information or a copy of the report, go to

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