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ASEAN Must Support Efforts to Renew Mandate for UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar

By ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus  •  February 15, 2013

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) today called on Indonesia and other ASEAN member states to support calls for the United Nations Human Rights Council to maintain its resolution and renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for human rights on Myanmar to continue to monitor the situation there.

AIPMC understands that Indonesia along with other ASEAN members states, plan to urge the Council to reduce its level of concern for the human rights situation in Myanmar, lowering it from item 4, to item 10 on the Council’s agenda. This would remove the mandate for a special rapporteur and UN Human Rights Council (HRC) monitoring of the rights situation in the country, restricting the Council’s mandate to that of technical cooperation. The UN Human Rights Council is in session from 25 February to 22 March.

“The Council’s Myanmar resolution and Special Rapporteur mandate should remain under item four of the Human Rights Council agenda, meaning that Myanmar remains a situation of special concerns to the Council,” said AIPMC President and Indonesian Member of Parliament Eva Kusuma Sundari.

“Plans for ASEAN member states to push for the Council to lower its concern for the situation in Myanmar may be conceived in good faith and with honest intentions. And while it seems that this is a measure that would be supportive of Myanmar’s reform process and raise it’s perception internationally, it is in fact counterproductive and could threaten to undermine the reform process, rather than support it.”

Despite the numerous reforms that have been introduced in Myanmar over the past 18 months, AIPMC remains concerned about the human rights situation in the country. ASEAN member states must lead efforts to ensure the UN Human Rights Council continues to monitor closely events taking place in Myanmar as a means of continuing to support the reform process, which remains unstable and still capable of being reversed.

“The mandate of the Special Rapporteur should not be moved to item 10 unless there is peace in Kachin State, unhindered access for humanitarian aid, and a solution to end discrimination against Rohingya in Rakhine State, as well as the release of all political prisoners and an agreement for the UN’s human rights agency, [OHCHR] to open an office with a full mandate that includes promotion and protection of human rights and access to all territories,” said AIPMC vice president and Cambodian Member of Parliament Son Chhay.

The UN Human Rights Council, along with other local, regional and international institutions and governments, while continuing to support and encourage positive developments, must also work to address the serious human rights violations that continue to take place in Myanmar. AIPMC acknowledges the myriad improvements initiated by the current government since it took office in 2011 and wishes to continue to support those reforms. Nevertheless, the caucus of elected representatives from across the ASEAN region, remains concerned by the culture of impunity that continues to pervade the country. It is imperative that the Burmese government also work speedily to undertake judicial reforms to ensure an independent and impartial justice system, and conduct credible and independent investigations into allegations of past violations of human rights in the country.

While the issue of the weakness of the rule of law as well as impunity remain issues of serious concern across many ASEAN member states, allegations of gross human rights violations by the Burmese military in Kachin and other ethnic areas, discrimination against ethnic and religions minorities, as well as the large number of political prisoners that remain in incarceration, the military’s continued intervention in politics and the extent of repressive legislation that contravene international human rights laws remain of particular concern and warrant the UN Human Rights Council maintaining its resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar under agenda item 4, “human rights situations that require the Council’s attention.”

For further information and interview requests please contact Ismail Wolff on +62 81514006416, or by email at info@aseanmp.org.

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This post is in: Press Release

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