UN rapporteur to examine human rights in Arakan, Shan states

UN rapporteur to examine human rights in Arakan, Shan states

The United Nations Special Rapporteur to Burma, Yanghee Lee, will arrive on Wednesday for her second official trip to the country.

According to a statement on Monday by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Lee will be in Burma from 7-16 January, during which time she will “gather first-hand information on the current human rights situation in the Rakhine [Arakan] and northern Shan states, among other issues.”

“I will review the situation in the camps for internally displaced persons and in isolated locations in the Rakhine State, to assess if there has been improvement in the critical conditions I came across on my first visit to Myanmar in July 2014,” Lee said.

The UN rapporteur is scheduled to meet the Chief Minister of Arakan State to discuss current developments toward peace, stability and the rule of law, including the controversial Rakhine Action Plan, which could have severe impacts on the Rohingya Muslim population in the region.

In July, Lee paid visits to internal displacement camps where over 100,000 mostly Rohingya IDPs shelter. She called conditions “deplorable” and warned Naypyidaw of “backtracking” on its pledge of reforms.

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Lee previously visited Kachin State; this time she is due in northern Shan State where a similar situation prevails – an ongoing civil conflict between government forces and Kachin rebels that has left tens of thousands homeless and many facing a humanitarian aid crisis.

“In northern Shan State, I will look at the human rights situation of religious and ethnic minorities,” Ms. Lee noted. “I will also speak with various parties about the situation of sexual and gender-based violence in the context of the ongoing conflict in this region.”

During her ten-day visit, Lee is scheduled to meet government officials, members of parliament and the judiciary, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and civil society representatives in Naypyidaw and Rangoon.

According to the UN statement, she also intends to visit political prisoners that remain in detention.

“The Special Rapporteur, who visits the country at the invitation of the government, expressed her appreciation of the open engagement and cooperation that has been offered in the preparation of this mission. Ms Lee will submit a report to the Human Rights Council in April 2015,” the UN OHCHR statement added.

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