The current legal, political, and economic context in Burma does not enable foreign investment that complies with key international norms and standards.
In spite of the recent reforms, FIDH and Altsean-Burma believe that Burma continues to lack the legal and institutional framework necessary in order to allow responsible investment and guarantee the effective implementation of the rights of individuals and communities affected by business operations in Burma.
Foremost, the country remains plagued by widespread corruption and impunity, which prevents the effective implementation of the rights of individuals and communities affected by business operations in Burma/Myanmar. In addition, ongoing human rights abuses related to land, labour, access to justice, and freedom of expression and assembly continue. Such abuses have been recently linked to business activities. While the Government of Myanmar has made some selective legal reforms in these areas, those reforms remain shallow and often fail to comply with international standards. In addition, the implementation of reforms remains limited and inconsistent throughout the country.
For instance, civil society groups throughout Burma/Myanmar continue to report that farmers and entire communities are being evicted from their land to make way for infrastructure and commercial projects.
New forced labour cases are still being reported, particularly in ethnic areas. The practice appears to continue to be a tool used by the authorities, including the military, in connection with infrastructure projects. Poor labour conditions including excessive working hours, low wages, poor health and safety conditions, child labour, and arbitrary penalties on workers are prevalent in many industries, such as in the garment and electronics sector, as local labour laws are not sufficient and being properly implemented.
Last, the economy of Burma/Myanmar is still largely dominated by State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private companies owned by so-called “cronies”, i.e. individuals closely connected to highly-placed members of the executive. These SOEs and the“cronies” stand to benefit the most from new investments rather than the Burmese people.