The ICJ welcomes the decision of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights meeting in Geneva to nominate a Special Rapporteur to examine the Human Rights situation in Myanmar (Burma).
The decision, adopted by consensus by the 53- member Commission late Tuesday night, expresses concern at the seriousness of the human rights situation in the country and the absence of progress in transferring power to the democratic forces which won an overwhelming victory in the elections of 27 May 1990.
The Commission also expressed concern over the continuing exodus of Myanmar refugees to neighbouring countries.
The Special Rapporteur is required to establish direct contact with the government and with the people of Myanmar, including political leaders deprived of their liberty, their families and lawyers. The best known political leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is still under house arrest and deprived of family visits. The objective of the Special Rapporteur is to examine the situation of human rights in Myanmar and follow any progress made towards the transfer of power to a civilian government and the drafting of a new constitution. The Special Rapporteur will report to the UN General Assembly this autumn and to the Commission on Human Rights next year.
The Resolution calls upon the government of Myanmar to extend its full and unreserved co-operation to the Special Rapporteur and to ensure that the Rapporteur has free access to any person in Myanmar whom he deems appropriate to meet for the conduct of his mandate.
Prior to the decision, Myanmar’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative U Tin Kyaw Hlaing stated before the Commission that the draft resolution was “lopsided, negative and highly intrusive”. He concluded by stating that “any decision to raise the level of consideration about the situation in Myanmar to a public one and/or any decision to appoint a Special Rapporteur are totally and absolutely unacceptable to us. We disassociate ourselves from the Commission’s decision.”
Since 1990, Myanmar has been examined by the Commission under a confidential procedure. The reports of two experts, Mrs. Sadako Ogata (Japan) and Mr. Yozo Yokota (Japan), have remained confidential. This will no longer be the case and Myanmar will now be considered under a public procedure, which according to ICJ Secretary-General Adama Dieng “should lift the curtain that has shielded the military government “.
The Geneva-based ICJ published a report in December 1991 which found widespread abuses in Myanmar, including the denial of free expression, unfair trials, torture, forced conscription and forced evictions. Mr Dieng added that the Commission’s decision “represents a further erosion of the international legitimacy of the military government”.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), headquartered in Geneva, is a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the OAU. Founded 40 years ago, its task is to defend the Rule of Law throughout the world and to work towards the full observance of the provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The ICJ has been a driving force behind the adoption of numerous international declarations and standards including the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, the European Convention Against Torture and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights. It is composed of 31 distinguished jurists from around the globe and has 75 national sections and affiliated organizations.NewsPress releases