Govt commits to 80 human rights recommendations at UN

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SUNDAY, 03 JULY 2011

Myanmar Times – MYANMAR has agreed to implement six additional recommendations made under a United Nations review of the country’s human rights record, it was revealed earlier this month.

Of the 190 recommendations made to Myanmar under the Universal Period Review process, 74 were supported, 70 were rejected outright and 46 were “taken back to the capital for consideration”. Of this last group, all but six were rejected, according to documents released by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The six recommendations “under serious consideration” call on Myanmar to establish a national human rights body in line with the Paris Principles. Adopted in 1993, the Paris Principles outline the responsibilities and composition of a credible national human rights institution.

Attorney General Dr Tun Shin told the 17th meeting of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 8 that the 110 rejected recommendations “were couched in such a manner that acceptance of them would infringe on Myanmar’s sovereign rights”.

He “stressed the Universal Period Review process had to be conducted in a constructive, non-confrontational, non-politicised manner” and said “some of the recommendations made were contrary to this basic principle”.

The Universal Periodic Review was created with the establishment of the Human Rights Council in 2006. Under the review, all 192 UN members undergo a review of their human rights record every four years and are invited to identify the areas where they have made progress on human rights issues. Countries are required to have implemented or begun implementing approved recommendations by the time the subsequent review is conducted.

Dr Tun Shin said through the Universal Period Review Myanmar had undertaken to “sign and ratify the core human rights treaties”, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It had also agreed to cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and with the UN to end the recruitment of child soldiers. He noted, though, that accession or ratification of any international treaties could only occur with the approval of both U Thein Sein’s government and national legislature.

Dr Tun Shin said that the new government was “still in its infancy” had the “political will to promote and protect human rights”.

In his inaugural address, President U Thein Sein stated that the domestic laws of Myanmar would be reviewed to be in line with the constitution and also bills would be submitted to safeguard fundamental rights of citizens in line with the constitution, Dr Tun Shin said. The executive ministries concerned were in the process of doing this, he added.

Representatives from 11 countries, mostly from Southeast Asia, participated in the discussion on Myanmar, with many praising its “constructive approach” to the review and the number of recommendations it had accepted. While the council adopted the outcome of Myanmar’s review, many representatives urged the government to make further progress on the human rights situation, particularly in regards to democratisation and national reconciliation.

“It is essential that the government of Myanmar responds sincerely and steadily implements the [supported]recommendations, including the recommendation that it become a signatory to the core international human rights instruments,” the Japanese speaker said.

Mr Desra Percaya from Indonesia said his country “appreciated that Myanmar intended to review existing domestic laws with a view to guaranteeing the right of expression, association and assembly, including assuring a free and independent media”.

Mr Michael Anthony of the Asian Legal Resource Centre said there was “little chance of Myanmar effectively implementing even those recommendations that it had formally accepted.

“Two major obstacles are the political perception of the rule of law as an executive function and the profound level of corruption,” he said. “The state has practically no domestic normative framework for the protection of human rights.”

Mr Biro Diawara of African Assembly for the Defence of Human Rights said acceptance of the recommendations needed to be reflected by progress on the ground. Mr Diawara said his organisation hoped the establishment of a national human rights commission would “help put an end to human rights violations in the country”.

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