1. One of the most important declarations of humanity, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was adopted on 10 December 1948 and the day has been designated as the International Human Rights Day. The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission joins today the international human rights community in celebrating this auspicious day.
2. The Commission is proud to recall on this occasion that Myanmar was the first country to vote for the Declaration when it was adopted by a roll call vote at the United Nations General Assembly held in Paris in December 1948. The Commission is pleased that it was provided with an opportunity to uphold “the inherent value of human dignity” recognized in the Declaration. It is in fact the disrespect for human dignity that leads to violations of human rights in all parts of the world.
3. Today is the most appropriate occasion for the Commission to take stock of what it has been able to do over the past year for the promotion and protection of human rights in the country and to lay out its plan for the future.
4. Regarding the protection of human rights, the Commission has examined most of the over 3,000 complaints received from September 2011 until the end of November 2012. Its initiatives with the letters of appeal to the President and statements for granting of amnesty to prisoners, including the “prisoners of conscience” have resulted in the release of thousands of prisoners and finally in a plan for transparent process to examine the cases of remaining prisoners, as announced by the Information Team of the President’s Office. The Commission is gratified that some of those released are currently playing an important role in the country’s democratization process. The experience of the Commission in protection work has vividly underscored the importance of the government’s cooperation and that of other stakeholders.
5. On the promotion of human rights, several workshops have been successfully held in Yangon in cooperation with the United Nations Agencies and other institutions specialized in human rights education. One significant result from these workshops is the commencement of a process to give more emphasis to human rights in the curricula of schools and institutions of higher learning.
6. The Commission has been able to set up strong relations, as tasked by its mandate, with the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the region. In September 2012 it became a member of the South East Asia National Human Rights Institutions Forum (SEANF) and an associate member of the Asia Pacific Forum of NHRIs (APF) in November 2012. As a result, the Commission can now work with these regional NHRIs for the promotion and protection of human rights in the region as well.
7. The Commission has drafted the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Law in collaboration with human rights institutions and it has been submitted to the President for consideration. After consideration by the President, the draft will be placed before the Parliament for approval. With the enactment of the Law, the Commission will be able to implement its mandate more effectively.
8. The future plan of the Commission, in particular for 2013, includes the holding of more workshops on such important subjects as Business and Human Rights, The two International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). These workshops are aimed at benefiting the individuals and entities doing business in Myanmar and the relevant ministries in their efforts related to human rights promotion and protection. Furthermore, the Commission will embark in 2013 on a long-term project to translate important human rights materials into Myanmar to enhance public awareness.
9. The mandate of the Commission, as mentioned in Notification No.34/2011 of the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and provided for in the above-mentioned Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Law entrusts a formidable task to the Commission to improve the human rights situation in the country. In fulfillment of this mandate, the Commission needs the cooperation of all concerned without which, a society where the inherent human dignity is respected will be far from being achieved.
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
Date- 10 December 2012