World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Myanmar: Serious human rights issues remain

25 August 2011

Myanmar: “Serious human rights issues remain despite positive steps by the authorities,” says UN expert

YANGON – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, urged the Government to intensify its efforts to implement its own commitments and to fulfill its international human rights obligations.

“This is a key moment in Myanmar’s history and there are real opportunities for positive and meaningful developments to improve the human rights situation and bring about a genuine transition to democracy,” Mr. Ojea Quintana said at the end of his five-day mission* to the country. “The new Government has taken a number of steps towards these ends. Yet, many serious human rights issues remain and they need to be addressed.”

Prisoners of conscience “Of key concern to me and to the international community is the continuing detention of a large number of prisoners of conscience. In my meetings with the Government, I conveyed my firm belief that their release is a central and necessary step towards national reconciliation and would bring more benefit to Myanmar’s efforts towards democracy. I reiterate that call now.”

Torture and ill-treatment “Another concern is the continuing allegations of torture and ill-treatment during interrogation, the use of prisoners as porters for the military, and the transfers of prisoners to prisons in remote areas where they are unable to receive family visits or packages of essential medicine and supplemental food. In Insein prison, I heard disturbing testimonies of prolonged sleep and food deprivation during interrogation, beatings, and the burning of bodily parts, including genital organs. I also heard accounts of prisoners being confined in cells normally used for prison dogs as means of punishment.”

Tensions/armed conflict with ethnic groups “Tensions in ethnic border areas and armed conflict with some armed ethnic groups engender serious human rights violations, including attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, internal displacement, land confiscations, the recruitment of child soldiers, as well as forced labour and portering. I call on the authorities and all armed groups to ensure the protection of civilians in conflict-affected areas and to accelerate efforts towards finding a political solution to the conflict.”

Deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights “Concerns regarding the availability and accessibility of education and health care were specifically highlighted (by many interlocutors), as well as the need for the teaching of ethnic minority languages in schools in minority areas – issues I have raised in my previous reports. Other concerns highlighted addressed land and housing rights, particularly with respect to the impact of infrastructure projects, land confiscations by the military and development-induced displacement.”

The legal system “The capacity, independence and impartiality of the judiciary remain outstanding issues in Myanmar. Various laws and legal provisions that limit fundamental rights and contravene international human rights standards remain in existence. I am encouraged to hear that a process to review and possibly amend or revoke national legislation is underway.” Justice “Justice and accountability measures, as well as measures to ensure access to the truth, are fundamental for Myanmar to face its past and current human rights challenges, and to move forward towards national reconciliation. I would again encourage the Government to demonstrate its willingness and commitment to address these concerns and to take the necessary measures for investigations of human rights violations to be conducted in an independent, impartial and credible manner, without delay.”

The new Parliament “I welcome what seems to be an opening of space for different actors and parties to engage in the political process. At the same time, I note the strong need to enhance the capacity and functioning of this new institution and of its members. Also crucial is the need to clarify a number of the Parliament’s internal rules and procedures, including establishing clear rules governing parliamentary immunity.

During his mission, the Special Rapporteur designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation in Myanmar met with Government ministers and various other relevant stakeholders, among them opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr. Ojea Quintana also saw the new parliament in session in Naypyitaw, and visited the Insein Prison where he met with prisoners of conscience.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur:


Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana (Argentina) 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 additional information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit:

OHCHR Country Page – Myanmar:

UN Human Rights, follow us on social media:

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: Landmark G7 Agreement Pledges 870 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses, Half By End-2021

A senior UN official welcomed on Sunday, the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized nations’ commitment to immediately share at least 870 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, supporting global access and helping to end the acute phase of the pandemic... More>>

OECD: G20 GDP Returns To Pre-pandemic Level In The First Quarter Of 2021, But With Large Differences Across Countries

Gross domestic product (GDP) of the G20 area returned to pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of 2021, growing by 0.8% compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. However, this figure conceals large differences across countries... More>>

Myanmar: ‘Mass Deaths’ Alert As 100,000 Flee Junta’s Heavy Weapons

In Myanmar, international action is needed urgently to prevent “mass deaths” there, after civilians fled attacks by so-called “junta bombs”, a top independent UN rights expert has warned... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UN: Tackling Biodiversity & Climate Crises Together And Their Combined Social Impacts

Unprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity, driven by human activities, have combined and increasingly threaten nature, human lives, livelihoods and well-being around the world... More>>

G7: No Major G7 Stock Index Aligned With Paris Climate Goals

New research by CDP and the United Nations Global Compact on behalf of the Science Based Targets initiative calls on the largest G7 companies to take ambitious climate action... More>>

Report: Universal Access To Sustainable Energy Will Remain Elusive Without Addressing Inequalities

During the last decade, a greater share of the global population gained access to electricity than ever before, but the number of people without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa actually increased... More>>