Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Burma: Political and human rights activists continue to be arrested, detained and mistreated

Nearly five months after Myanmar’s forceful crackdown on peaceful protesters, political and human rights activists continue to be arrested, detained and sentenced to prison, an independent United Nations expert said today.

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, also voiced concern about the well-being of those being detained.

“Reports have been received expressing serious concerns regarding the health conditions of some of the prisoners who require immediate care and specific medication,” Mr. Pinheiro said in a statement issued today in Geneva.

Calling the ongoing prosecutions “a flagrant abuse” of people’s right to a free and fair trial in accordance with internationally recognized standards, he stressed that the Government has “a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The Special Rapporteur visited Myanmar last November to verify allegations of abuses during the Government crackdown in the summer of 2007, determine the numbers and whereabouts of those detained or killed, and collect testimony about what happened.

He found that at least 31 people died during the crackdown – 16 more than had been acknowledged by the Government – and that between 3,000 and 4,000 people were arrested in September and October.

The UN Human Rights Council, to which Mr. Pinheiro reports, has requested him to conduct a follow-up mission to look into ongoing human rights violations before the Council’s next session in March.

Source: UN News Centre