United Nations human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana during a visit in August 2011. (Kaung Htet/The Myanmar Times)
February 11, 2013
The United Nations’ human rights envoy will make a six-day visit this week to gather data on conflicts in Kachin and Rakhine states ahead of the submission of a report to the Human Rights Council in March.
Mr Tomás Ojea Quintana, the special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, will make his seventh visit to Myanmar from February 11 to 16, the UN said in a statement on February 5.
“As Myanmar continues to undergo reforms, it is important to assess thecurrent human rights situation and to reflect on positive developments and remaining challenges,” Mr Quintana said in the statement.
The visit is Mr Quintana’s first since August 2012, when he expressed concern about the violence in Rakhine State in June and called for a review of the 1982 Citizenship Act “to ensure that it is in line with international human rights standards”.
Mr Quintana said he would review the situation in Rakhine State again, following a second outbreak of violence in October.
“I would like to see the conditions in the camps for the internally displaced, which I was particularly concerned about following my previous visit last August,” he said.
“I will also seek an update on what steps have been taken to address the underlying causes of the violence and displacement there, including the systematic discrimination against the Rohingya community, before I report to the Human Rights Council.”
In August he also highlighted the impact of the fighting in Kachin State and the need to release remaining political prisoners and these will remain a focus of this week’s visit.
“A particular concern is the escalation of the conflict in Kachin State, and I hope my visit will give me a clearer picture of the situation there and the impact it has had on civilians,” he said. “I will be lending my voice to calls for a ceasefire and progress in addressing minority issues.”
During his stay in Myanmar, Mr Quintana will meet government officials, as well as members of parliament, the judiciary, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and civil society organisations in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon.
“I look forward to constructive discussion, at both senior and grassroots levels, with the aim of encouraging continuing progress in human rights protection, democratic transition and national reconciliation, while also advising on remaining gaps,” he said.
Mr Quintana’s report on the human rights situation in Myanmar will be presented to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council on March 11.