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UN rights envoy calls for tangible progress before 2010

Oct 27, 2008 (DVB), The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Burma has said democracy in Burma will take "generations" to achieve and called for concrete progress by the military regime.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly on 23 October, special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana called for the Burmese regime to take tangible steps towards democracy and respect for human rights, but said full democratisation would take time.

"Restoration of full democracy cannot happen overnight; it will take generations." He said.

The special rapporteur also told reporters that the country was not yet ready for democracy, and set out four core steps which he said must be completed before the elections in 2010.

These included the revision of domestic laws to bring them into line with human rights norms, the progressive release of all political prisoners, reform of the military and establishing an independent judiciary.

"To get a civil government will take time. They are not prepared for that. They are prepared for war," Quintana said of the regime.

He called on the UN to back up its resolutions on Burma with the resources to ensure they are implemented.

Quintana described his first visit to Burma in August as difficult, but said it had been an important trip during which he was able to spend three hours meeting detainees in private.

The special rapporteur said he hoped his next visit would be longer and would give him the opportunity to see other parts of the country.

Quintana took up his position as special rapporteur in May this year, replacing Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

He visited Burma for four days in August.

Reporting by Siân Thomas


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