Wednesday, 6 February 2013

UN Special Rapporteur visit to assess human rights situation

GENEVA – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, will undertake an official visit to the country from 11 to 16 February 2013, which will include gathering information on the current situation in Kachin State and Rakhine State. The rights expert visits the country at the invitation of the Government.

“As Myanmar continues to undergo wide-ranging reforms, it is important to assess the current human rights situation and to reflect on positive developments and remaining challenges,” Mr. Quintana said, preparing for his seventh mission to Myanmar, for which he has requested the authorities to visit Kachin and Rakhine States.

“A particular concern is the escalation of the conflict in Kachin State, and I hope my visit will give me a clearer picture of the situation there and the impact it has had on civilians,” he noted. “I will be lending my voice to calls for a ceasefire and progress in addressing minority issues.”

Regarding Rakhine State, the Special Rapporteur stressed that the current situation continues to be a major concern, following violence between Rakhine Buddhist and Muslim Rohingya communities there last June and October. “I would like to see the conditions in the camps for the internally displaced, which I was particularly concerned about following my previous visit last August,” Mr. Quintana said.

“I will also seek an update on what steps have been taken to address the underlying causes of the violence and displacement there, including the systematic discrimination against the Rohingya community, before I report* to the Human Rights Council,” he noted.

During his visit, the independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Myanmar will meet with Government officials, members of Parliament and the judiciary, the National Human Rights Commission, and civil society in Naypyitaw and Yangon.

“I look forward to constructive discussion, at both senior and grassroots levels, with the aim of encouraging continuing progress in human rights protection, democratic transition and national reconciliation, while also advising on remaining gaps,” the Special Rapporteur underscored.

On 16 February, at the end of his mission, Mr. Quintana will present preliminary observations at a press conference at Yangon International Airport at 18:15 (local time). His full report on the visit will be presented to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council on 11 March 2013.

(*) Check the latest progress report on Myanmar by the Special Rapporteur:

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I am an independent man who voted to humanitarian aid.