Item 72 (c) of the provisional agenda*
Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives
The present report provides an overview of human rights developments and challenges in Myanmar, and recommendations to address them.
The present report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 40/29, covers developments in Myanmar since the previous report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, to the Council (A/HRC/40/68) and the oral update presented to the Council in July 2019.
Myanmar continues to deny access to the Special Rapporteur, obstructing the execution of her mandate and fulfilling the duties tasked to her by the Human Rights Council. As a result of this denial of access, the Special Rapporteur conducted a visit to Thailand from 8 to 14 July and to Malaysia from 14 to 18 July 2019. In Thailand, she met government officials, United Nations agencies working in Thailand and the region (including Myanmar) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In Malaysia, she engaged with government officials and held discussions with the United Nations and refugees from Myanmar. She held teleconferences with the United Nations country team in Myanmar and NGOs, experts and human rights defenders in Myanmar.
The Special Rapporteur requested a visit to China, to which she did not receive a reply. She continues to seek opportunities for cooperation with the Government of Myanmar. Following her mission to Malaysia and Thailand, she sent a list of questions to the Government, to which she has not yet received a response.
II. Positive developments
The Special Rapporteur commends the passage of children’s rights legislation in July, marking a significant improvement in the legal protection of children’s rights in Myanmar. She notes that the law provides for education for all children and places parameters on child labour. Under the law, no child shall be employed in the worst forms of labour and no child younger than 14 years of age is considered employable. All children have the right to birth registration, the minimum age for marriage is 18 years and the six grave violations against children in armed conflict are criminalized.
Myanmar has been undertaking substantial work to reduce barriers to access to health and legal services relating to HIV/AIDS. The Special Rapporteur notes that a bill on people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS is being developed and that the Drug Law of 2018 has had a positive impact in this area. Issues remain, however, in particular with regard to people continuing to be arrested for carrying used syringes containing drug residue, which discourages people from returning them, given that the police have not been provided with directives in relation to the Drug Law.
In June, the Government announced that the “other accounts” held by Stateowned economic enterprises outside of the State budget and used without oversight would be closed. This is an opportunity for the Government to improve transparency in the economy and support the greater realization of the right to information. In addition, it should ensure that departments tasked with enforcing regulations are better resourced, in particular in sectors in which the Special Rapporteur has observed significant human rights issues such as natural resource extraction and power generation.
The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has prepared a draft strategic plan for the period 2020–2024 and has shared it publicly in order to receive comment. The Special Rapporteur is encouraged that the Commission has, as one of its proposed strategic interventions, advocacy to strengthen its founding law, which would enable it to make an improved contribution to human rights in Myanmar. The Special Rapporteur recommends that the law be amended to fully align with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles), in particular that commissioners come from diverse backgrounds, including civil society, and are selected in a transparent process.