Burma Campaign UK welcomes the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution on Burma, passed by consensus on Thursday 21st March.
The resolution highlighted serious human rights abuses which could violate international law, including ‘…arbitrary detention, forced displacement, land confiscations, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as violations of international humanitarian law,…. violence, displacement and economic deprivation affecting persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities… armed conflict in Kachin State and the associated human rights violations and allegations of international humanitarian law violations, desecration of places of worship, sexual violence and torture…’
In a blow for President Thein Sein, the Burmese government failed in its attempt to have Burma moved from Item 4 of the Council’s agenda, ‘Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention’, to Item 10, ‘Technical assistance and capacity building.’ Thein Sein also failed to persuade Council members not to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Burma. The mandate was extended for a further year.
“With so many serious on-going human rights abuses in Burma, it’s not surprising that Thein Sein is attempting to stop the Human Rights Council document what is taking place,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director at Burma Campaign UK. “While it is welcome that the Human Rights Council is highlighting on-going abuses by the government of Burma which violate international law, we also need to see action from the international community to pressure Thein Sein to end these abuses. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening as pressure is being relaxed.”
The Human Rights Council also repeated a call, made more than thirty times in previous Resolutions by the Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly, to ‘… take necessary measures to ensure accountability and end impunity, including by undertaking a full, transparent and independent investigation into all reports of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law’. Given the continuing refusal of the government of Burma to respond to this demand, it is time for the Human Rights Council to look again into establishing a Commission of Inquiry into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.
Highlighting yet another way in which Burma fails to meet its obligations under international law, the Council also called on the government of Burma to: ‘…fulfil its obligations as a party to international treaties and other legally binding instruments, and to become a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.’
The Council also called on the government of Burma to meet its international treaty obligations in relation to the ethnic Rohingya; ‘…to repeal and/ or amend laws that deny the Rohingya, inter alia, the right to birth registration, the ability to marry and freedom of movement, including equal access to citizenship, through a full review of the Citizenship Law of 1982 to ensure that it conforms to international obligations defined in treaties to which the Government of Myanmar is a party, including their right to a nationality.’
“This Resolution is a reminder that two years into the reform process Burma still has one of the world’s worst records on human rights, with multiple violations of international law,” said Anna Roberts.