Rights Monitoring Could Increase

The Burmese junta tortures 'a lot' of its critics, says a senior U.N. official, who also says he expects human rights monitoring to increase.

2009-04-22
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Than-Shwe-305.jpg Former junta chief Than Shwe reviews an honor guard in Myanmar in a file photo.
AFP

BANGKOK—The U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, says he expects to increase human rights monitoring in Burma "in the near future," noting that its military government routinely tortures citizens.

“I have always, again, received serious allegations, and what I do then is to address them and send them to the Burmese government to conduct investigations on the complaints and requested them to send back the results and findings of these investigations,” Nowak told RFA’s Burmese service.

“But the military government does not [give] the cooperation that one would expect from a member of the U.N.,” he added.

I also want to have the opportunity to go and look at the prisons in the country."

Manfred Nowak, U.N. special rapporteur

Citing scrutiny from U.N. human rights officials in Geneva, however, Nowak said, “That is why I hope that the situation of human rights in Burma will improve in the near future. Additionally, I expect that we will be able to increase monitoring of human rights in Burma.”

Nowak didn't comment further on why and how he expected human rights monitoring to expand.

“I also want to have the opportunity to go and look at the prisons in the country,” he said, but added: “Up until now, we have not seen any hint of interest on this matter from the side of the Burmese government.”

'Quite bad'

He noted a recent visit to Burma by U.N. human rights envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who has characterized abuses there as “quite bad.”

“The Burmese people are being unjustly and unlawfully arrested for expressing their profound wishes with regard to politics. After being arrested, a lot of them are tortured,” Nowak said.

In its most recent report on human rights around the world, the U.S. State Department noted that while Burmese law prohibits torture, “members of the security forces and other pro-government forces reportedly tortured, beat, and otherwise abused prisoners, detainees, and other citizens.”

“They routinely subjected detainees to harsh interrogation techniques designed to intimidate and disorient. As in previous years, authorities took little or no action to investigate the incidents or punish the perpetrators.”

Original reporting by Kyaw Kyaw Aung for RFA’s Burmese service. Service director: Nancy Shwe. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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