The Asian Human Rights Commission released a special dossier of recent cases of arrest, detention, torture and extortion carried out by Burma military and police personnel in Kachin State. The 36 cases from 2012 have all been conducted under the Unlawful Associations Act, 1908, a draconian colonial-era statute under which contact with groups that the government identifies as "unlawful" constitutes a criminal offence.

"What is clear is that the armed forces and its affiliates are continuing to operate with utter impunity, and the political changes of the last year or so are either not designed to in any way address the enjoyment of impunity, or are ineffectual to do anything about it" Bijo Francis, acting executive director of the AHRC said.

The Hong Kong-based regional human rights group wanted to draw attention to the links between abuses in the battlefield and the institutionalised abuses of the police, courts, and administrative agencies in the country, he added. "What this dossier shows is that none of these practices are going on in a vacuum. All of them are being perpetrated through a systemic arrangement for the abuse of human rights in which the government of Burma continues to be utterly complicit," Francis stressed.

An attempt in 2012 by members of the country's legislature to have the Unlawful Associations Act revoked failed because of the predominance of members from the military, with military backgrounds or military connections. The AHRC says in the foreword to the dossier that it supports efforts to get the law revoked but that this would in itself not be enough. "This law, like others currently used in the country to violate fundamental human rights, is merely a vehicle for the abusive practices that the police and military forces conduct habitually," it says, noting that the habitual practices associated with the law are what persons concerned with the abuses documented ultimately must target.

The dossier is available in PDF online.

2013.01.21 Asian Human Rights Commission