UN rights envoy Quintana visits Pa-an prison

Feb 16, 2009 (DVB), The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, visited Pa-an prison in Karen state yesterday during his second trip to the country.

A resident of Pa-an said prison conditions had been improved in advance of the special rapporteur's visit.

"There are no special security measures, the traffic police have just cleared the roads," the resident said.

"I don’t know the details of who he is meeting. They issued new uniforms to prisoners as he was coming and allowed them to eat with spoons and forks," he said.

"Nay Phone Latt, Nandar Sit Aung, Ko Nay Kyaw, Ko Thiha Soe, Thant Sin Aung and Ko Latt are there."

Quintana arrived in Burma on 14 February for a six-day mission to assess developments in the country since his last visit in August 2008.

After his last visit, the special rapporteur put forward four human rights proposals to be implemented before the 2010 elections.

These were the revision of domestic laws that restrict human rights, the progressive release of political prisoners, reform of the military and the establishment of an independent judiciary.

Quintana has asked to meet political prisoners, government officials and opposition political leaders during his visit, and also plans to travel to Arakan and Kachin states.

Daw Aye Aye, the mother of high-profile monk leader U Gambira, said she did not yet know if the special rapporteur would meet her son during this visit.

U Gambira, who is currently detained in Khandee prison, spent 20 minutes with Quintana during his visit last year.

Daw Aye Aye said her health was suffering from worrying about her son.

National League for Democracy spokesperson Nyan Win said that it would be difficult to get the military regime to comply with human rights standards.

"I don’t think the military will freely oblige on human rights matters," Nyan Win said.

"All our human rights have been violated. If Mr Quintana pushes and shoves, there could be some benefits , that’s all we can say," he said.

"If they don’t do anything, he has to report it to the UN Security Council according to the rules and regulations."

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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