UN rights envoy to visit Burma in February

Jan 29, 2010 (DVB), Tomas Ojea Quintana, United Nations' Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, is planning to make a visit to the country in February.

During an interview with DVB, Mr Quintana said the Burmese government has accepted his request for a visit to the country from 15 to 20 February, to assess human rights situation there.

"I requested to meet with Madam Aung San Suu Kyi and other representatives of political parties," he said. "And at the same time, I also requested to go to a state, to Yakhine (Arakan) state, particularly to assess the situation of the Muslim community."

He particularly expressed his concerns for persecuted Rohingya Muslim community in Arakan state near Bangladesh, and added that human rights situation in Burma has not improved.

"My job is to try to improve, somehow, the situation," he insisted. "The main objective of the main mission for me is to continue assessing the problem with the authority, to try to see if some of them are willing to implement my recommendations for the improvement of human rights. At the same time, for me, (it is) important also to collect firsthand information."

He said he will make a report on his findings to the UN Human Rights Council after the visit.

Mr. Quintana who replaced Paulo Sergio Pinhero in 2008 made his first official visit to the country in August 2008.

He was allowed to visit it a second time in February 2009 , meeting political prisoners in former capital Rangoon's Insein jail and Karen State in eastern Burma.

But his request for a subsequent visit was rejected by the ruling generals of the State Peace and Development Council in October that year.

He called on the junta to sign and ratify core international human rights instruments, to establish accountability for systematic and widespread human rights violations and to release political prisoners before the planned 2010 election , amongst other recommendations.

Reporting by Nay Htoo

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