The Special Rapporteur is concerned that prisoners of conscience remain in detention throughout Myanmar. He reiterates that the Government should release all remaining prisoners of conscience without conditions or delay. This is central to national reconciliation and Myanmar’s democratic transition.

There are continuing discrepancies in the numbers of remaining prisoners of conscience from different sources. Accordingly, a comprehensive and thorough investigation, based on broad and public consultations with all relevant stakeholders, such as political and civil society organizations and released prisoners themselves, is needed to clarify records and bring together information on remaining numbers. The Government should consider this issue urgently, including with international assistance as necessary.

The Special Rapporteur has received, and continues to receive, consistent allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, in particular during interrogation by Special Branch officials. The issue requires serious attention. Immediate and effective preventive measures should be taken and prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations ensured. Any statement made as a result of torture should not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made. The Special Rapporteur also recommends that the Government become party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol.

While the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission can play an important role in this regard, the Special Rapporteur has previously noted concerns, including the requirement of presidential authorization to undertake prison visits and the fact that interviews with prisoners have been conducted in the presence of prison officials. Given the limited mechanisms for external oversight of the prison system at present, the Government should allow the International Committee of the Red Cross and national monitoring groups full access to prisons.

2012.09.25 United Nations