Burmese Government Establishes Human Rights Commission

Posted September 6th, 2011 at 7:50 am (UTC-5)
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Burma’s state media say the government has established its first national human rights commission.

In a brief announcement Tuesday, the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the 15-member commission will be charged with promoting and safeguarding fundamental rights of citizens under the country’s 2008 constitution.

The panel is made up of diplomats, academics and former government officials, all of them retired.

The announcement follows a visit last month by United Nations human rights envoy Tomas Quintana, who was for the first time permitted to visit prisoners at the notorious Insein Prison and talk to pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

The government continues to hold more than 2,000 political prisoners in custody. Burma faces harsh international sanctions due to its decades of political repression.

The military government that ruled Burma until March of this year established a similar human rights commission led by government officials in 2000. But the commission did little to ease international concerns about the human rights situation in Burma.

The new government that took office at the end of March came to power through tainted elections in November. It is dominated by retired and current military officers and their close allies.