Thursday, 10 October 2013

Myanmar: “Prisoners of conscience must be released without any conditions” – UN rights expert

Source: OHCHR-Bangkok
9:21 AM (7 hours ago)


Myanmar: “Prisoners of conscience must be released without any conditions”
– UN rights expert

GENEVA (9 October 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the
human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, has welcomed the
latest presidential amnesty on 8 October resulting in the release of 56
prisoners of conscience, while raising concerns over ongoing arrests of
activists and conditions attached to arrests.

“I commend the Government for this latest amnesty, and celebrate the
release of these people who had been unjustly imprisoned under the previous
military Government,” Mr. Ojea Quintana said. “These releases are not only
important for the victims and their families, but also for the ongoing
process of democratic transition and national reconciliation.”

“However, the release of prisoners of conscience is something that should
be based on principle and should therefore occur immediately and
unconditionally,” the expert said, while noting that the Code of Criminal
Procedure enables the attachment of conditions to the discharge of
prisoners, such as the imposition of the remaining sentence if the
President judges that a condition of release has been broken.

“Administrative obstacles should also be removed which hinder former
prisoners’ freedom to relocate to different states and regions in Myanmar,
restrict them in running for public office, as well as hinder their
acquisition of passports and professional work licences,” he said. “The
release of prisoners of conscience must be without any conditions.”

The human rights expert also expressed concern over ongoing arrests and
convictions taking place which he believes are politically motivated,
including individuals involved in land rights protests: “These releases
need to be accompanied by legislative reforms, including the Peaceful
Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act, to ensure that new prisoners of
conscience do not take the place of old ones.”

“There are also other cases that need to be included in the President’s
commitment to release all political prisoners by the end of the year,
including the four INGO workers who have been arbitrarily detained in
Buthidaung Prison since June and July 2012, and human rights defenders in
Rakhine State such as Dr. Tun Aung and U Kyaw Hla Aung, who have also been
arbitrarily detained since June 2012 and July 2013 respectively,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur will present his latest report on the human rights
situation in Myanmar to the General Assembly in New York on 24 October


Mr. Tomás Ojea Quintana (Argentina) was appointed by the United Nations
Human Rights Council in May 2008. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent
from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.
He has worked at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. He was also
the Executive Director of the OHCHR Programme for Protection and Promotion
of Human Rights in Bolivia. Most recently, Mr. Ojea Quintana has
represented the Argentinean NGO “Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo” in cases
concerning child abduction during the military régime. Learn more, log on

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