Junta slams UN special rapporteur's report

Mar 14, 2008 (DVB), The Burmese government has responded with strong denials to an oral report given to the United Nations Human Rights Council by UN special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

Pinheiro, the UN's special expert on human rights in Burma, presented his report to the Human Rights Council yesterday and claimed that the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country was worsening.

Among the concerns raised in Pinheiro's report were the ongoing arrests of political activists, land confiscation, forced relocation and increased militarisation.

The special rapporteur also claimed that forced labour remained widespread and that the regime lacked the political will to put an end to the practice.

U Wunna Maung Lwin, Burma's permanent representative to the United Nations, said that Pinheiro had "gone above and beyond the special rapporteur's mandate" in his report.

"We find the special rapporteur's report completely lacking in important attributes such as objectivity and impartiality," he said.

"The report is very intrusive which attempted to intrude into the internal domestic policies of Myanmar."

Wunna Maung Lwin claimed the report was based on unsubstantiated information from sources seeking to undermine the government, and said that the government rejected all Pinheiro's findings.

"Regrettably, I would say that the special rapporteur takes the side of the anti-government groups which is neither appropriate for his mandate nor fair for my country," he said.

"Our engagement with the Council must be constructive and forward looking, not confrontational and condemnatory."

Pinheiro has not been able to return to Burma since his visit in November last year, when he was given a mandate by the Human Rights Council to investigate the public demonstrations in September and subsequent military crackdown.

His findings following this trip were also roundly rejected by the regime.

Reporting by Si√¢n Thomas

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