UN rapporteur dismayed by ongoing rights abuses

Feb 6, 2008 (DVB), United Nations special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro expressed his "dismay" at the Burmese regime's continued detention and sentencing of activists, in a statement issued yesterday.

Pinheiro criticised the ongoing crackdown on demonstrators and political activists, who continue to be arrested, detained and given long-term prison sentences.

"[T]he ongoing prosecutions are a flagrant abuse of people’s right to a free and fair trial in accordance with international recognized standards and the requirements of the due process of law," the statement said.

The special rapporteur also expressed concern about the physical and psychological health of those in detention, and urged the Burmese government to ensure that detainees urgently receive any necessary medical treatment.

Pinheiro visited Burma in November 2007 with a mandate from the Human Rights Council to investigate the September public protests and the Burmese regime's violent response.

He presented a report to the Human Rights Council on 11 December in which he said that at least 31 people had died and up to 4000 had been detained in the crackdown.

The Burmese government rejected Pinheiro's findings, claiming it "did not reflect the true situation on the ground and lacked objectivity and impartiality".

The UN Security Council also criticised the Burmese government's slow progress towards genuine dialogue and democratic reform in a statement released three weeks ago.

Reporting by Si√¢n Thomas

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