Opposition MP urges parliament to sign UN convention on torture

Opposition MP urges parliament to sign UN convention on torture

On Tuesday, a proposal in Burma’s lower house to sign a UN convention against torture was tabled and put on record.

Lower House representative and National League for Democracy (NLD) member Aung Moe Nyo submitted the proposal urging the government to sign the UN treaty – Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The MP cited incidents in Burma where suspects in custody were forced to confess to law-enforcement officials after being subjected to violent interrogation methods.

According to Lower House MP Ye Htun, Deputy Home Affairs Minister and Chief of Burma Police Force Kyaw Kyaw Tun said not all of the convention’s criteria were congruent with Burma’s political context during a debate on the floor.

“The [Minister] said that not every Southeast Asian country has signed the Human Rights Convention – adding that there are [standards] that are not in accord with our country as well as ones that are,” said Ye Htun.

“Regarding the use of unwarranted interrogation methods to force confessions from detainees, the deputy home affairs minister said officials found employing those methods will be taken action upon – he said the ministry is now also planning to punish the violators’ supervising officials.”

After the debate, Lower House’s Speaker Shwe Mann put the proposal on record.

Following a trip to Burma in February, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights Tomas Ojea Quintana lauded the country’s reforms, but insisted that ongoing human rights abuses in the country remained.

“The reforms in Myanmar (Burma) are continuing apace, which is a good sign for the improvement of the human rights situation in Myanmar,” said Quintana.

“There are significant human rights shortcomings that remain unaddressed.”

In a statement released by the UN envoy, Quintana pointed out the continued incarceration of hundreds of political prisoners, along with the arrest of more than 1,000 people in the wake of ethno-religious rioting in Arakan state last year – where allegations surfaced that many of the Muslims who were arrested were tortured and others beaten to death while in prison.

In January, Phyo Wai Aung, who was falsely accused of masterminding a grenade attack at the Rangoon Thingyan festival in April 2010, and later tortured, died less than six months after being pardoned.

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