UN expert calls for credible probes in Myanmar

14th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN expert on Myanmar called Monday on the country's authorities to carry out credible probes of human rights violations, otherwise the international community would have to intervene.

"We need to see strong signals that this government intends to change the policies and practices of the old government," said Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar.

"This new government must sooner rather than later confront the need for truth, justice and accountability," he told the UN Human Rights Council, making reference to newly elected authorities in January polls.

It is therefore "essential for investigations of human rights to be conducted in an independent, impartial and credible manner, without delay," he stressed.

"The responsibility to take action falls to the international community if the government fails to do so," added Quintana.

The special rapporteur also urged the authorities to free all political prisoners without delay, adding that the new government should reform its legislation to end persecution of the opposition.

Myanmar ambassador Thant Kyaw meanwhile rejected the UN expert's calls, saying that the country's human rights body has undertaken "thorough investigations" into rights abuses, and that "punitive measures were taken against perpetrators, either civilian or military."

However, he said that the new government planned to continue cooperation with the Human Rights Council.

Quintana saw this as an assurance that he would be granted permission to visit the country to assess the situation on the ground, and to get an idea if the new government would be more inclined to take human rights into account.

"I take this as an official declaration that they will accept my next request for the first part of this year," he told journalists.

Quintana last visited Myanmar in February 2010. His requests to visit the country since had been rejected by authorities.

© 2011 AFP

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