The ICJ urged the diplomatic community in Myanmar to assist, and assess, the new government’s efforts to improve the protection and promotion of human rights in the country at a diplomatic dialogue today.
The ICJ shared its 14 General Recommendations to the new Government and Parliament, with ambassadors and high-level diplomatic representatives, and discussed specific, actionable recommendations to the Government to effectively address human rights violations immediately and in the long term and to provide redress to those whose rights have been violated.
Access to justice for victims of human rights violations has been severely curbed in Myanmar during decades of military rule.
Most of the population has been consistently denied access to the courts and effective remedies as a result of unfair and discriminatory laws and poor court decisions.
With an improper regulatory regime for investment and environmental protection, and an ineffective judiciary to enforce laws and provide access to justice, economic development has risked undermining human rights protection and negatively impacting on economic, social and cultural rights.
Vani Sathisan, ICJ’s International Legal Adviser for Myanmar, stated that while the new government is more receptive than its predecessor to international human rights laws and standards, it should urgently establish a clear plan on strengthening rule of law reform and that all legislation must be guided by the principles of non-discrimination, greater accountability, transparency and justice.
Among the key recommendations the ICJ shared are:
- Supporting the committing of resources to the judiciary as well as the Attorney General’s Office to improve the state of legal education, court facilities, and safeguards to prosecutors to undertake investigations independently;
- Pushing for the passage of new land laws in consultation with civil society modeled on international standards and best practices;
- Ensuring that a new investment law conforms to the new land law that protects all forms of land tenure and provides access to justice when human rights occur;
- Seeking more clarity on the Government’s ability to monitor and regulate the conduct of businesses and their impacts on human rights;
- Supporting and strengthening the capacity of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to undertake investigations on human rights violations independently and impartially;
- Repealing or amending laws that are abused to violate the right to freedom of expression and opinion; and
- Encouraging the Government to consult and engage more closely with civil society and the international human rights community.
The diplomatic dialogue aimed to provide the international human rights organizations with an opportunity to clarify their various policy guidelines and provide updates to assist the diplomatic community with their multilateral lobbying efforts in Myanmar with the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, and civil society.
The Embassy of Denmark hosted the event. Members of the diplomatic community included those from the EU, UK, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Australia, The Philippines and Bangladesh.
The ICJ was joined in a panel by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.