MYANMAR: Council urged to take strong, relevant action to address grave rights abuses

An Oral Statement to the 16th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization in general consultative status

MYANMAR: Council urged to take strong, relevant action to address grave rights abuses

Thank you, 

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) welcomes the report and work of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar. We deplore the authorities’ ongoing, unjustifiable obstruction of a country visit since February 2010. 

The ALRC continues to document numerous cases of arbitrary detention, torture, forced disappearance, and the demented use of courts to arbitrarily sentence persons without any rational, legal justification. While welcoming the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in November 2010, the ALRC condemns the sham elections that preceded it and sees no credible signs of any progress concerning human rights in the country since. 

Those States that are working to weaken the Council’s action, citing the elections and the government’s alleged transformation process, are either incredibly ill-informed, or worse still, acting in bad faith and complicit in shielding perpetrators of systematic and widespread abuses. 

Mr. Rapporteur, given the extreme nature of the un-rule of law in Myanmar, what do you recommend the Council prioritise in order to be relevant and effective in addressing the arbitrary, unpredictable and norm-free system there? Standard approaches and recommendations that may work elsewhere have repeatedly shown themselves to be futile in Myanmar. 

The ALRC has submitted written information to this session explaining how the government’s gross misrepresentations during the country’s UPR are a consequence of its disconnection from any type of normative framework for the protection of rights, and indicative of its attitude towards the UPR process and the international system as a whole. Myanmar claimed that “Torture is a grave crime and the Constitution prohibits torture” (paragraph 52). The statement is fiction. There is nowhere in the 2008 Constitution a prohibition of torture of any sort. Nor is there a prohibition in the Penal Code or in any other section of domestic law. 

The ALRC urges the Council to take the government’s disconnection and deception into consideration when taking action. Propping up governments that grossly abuse the rights of their citizens has been shown to be flawed, immoral and unsustainable, in the Middle-East and North Africa, and these lessons must be applied to Myanmar, to bring to an end decades of fear and suffering. 

Thank you. 

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