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Myanmar: Statement by the ILO very High-Level Team

Statement by the ILO very High-Level Team at the close of its visit to Myanmar

GENEVA (ILO News) - The very High-Level Team (vHLT) appointed by the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), following a decision by the ILO Governing Body in November 2004, visited Yangon, Myanmar on 21-23 February, and upon departure issued the following statement:

"The mandate which had been entrusted to the vHLT by the Governing Body of the ILO at its 291st Session (November 2004) was to evaluate the attitude of the Myanmar authorities at the highest level to the elimination of forced labour and assess their determination to continue their cooperation with the ILO in this regard. Its composition had been established accordingly. The Myanmar authorities were fully aware of these terms of reference before the mission departed for Yangon. However, the mission was informed on its arrival that for various reasons linked to the National Convention the program did not include the meetings that would have enabled it to successfully complete its mandate as it understood it."

"Under the circumstances, and after having discussions and making its views known to the Minister for Labour and to the Prime Minister, the mission decided that there would be no point at this stage to have more in-depth discussions at the technical level on the concrete steps outlined in those meetings which in the mission’s view could contribute to alleviating recent concerns expressed in the Governing Body."

"The vHLT will submit its report to the next session of the ILO Governing Body in March."

The mission also made public four clarifying points regarding the matters under discussion:

o Issuing a public executive instruction from the competent State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) level to give effect to the provision in Order Supplementing Order 1/99 that the Ministry of Defence should issue further directives to all units under its command not to requisition forced labour, and giving adequate publicity to same.

o Reconfirmation of the commitment of the authorities to the terms of the joint Plan of Action on forced labour, including identification of the Facilitator, together with the appointment of a high-level focal point in the army to deal with allegations that concern the army.

o Renewing the commitment of the authorities to the freedom of movement of the ILO Liaison Officer.

o Taking additional measures that could build confidence vis-à-vis the people of Myanmar as regards the possibilities to lodge complaints regarding forced labour. Such measures should include extending the amnesty which was granted to the two persons in the High-Treason case to the third person whose conviction had an ILO dimension, as well as credible solutions to the serious forced labour cases identified by the ILO Governing Body in November 2004.

The mission comprised Sir Ninian Stephen, former Governor General of Australia, Ms. Ruth Dreifuss, former President of the Swiss Confederation and Mr. Eui-yong Chung, former Chairman of the Governing Body of the ILO and member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea.


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