Final visit for UN human rights envoy Ojea Quintana

The United Nations special envoy on human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, is due to arrive in Yangon on February 14 for his ninth and last official visit to the country since he was appointed to the position in May 2008.
In a statement released in Geneva on February 11, the UN said Mr Ojea Quintana would assess the situation in Myanmar and follow up on his previous recommendations during the visit, which is scheduled to end on February 19.
It said Mr Ojea Quintana plans to visit Rakhine and Kachin states, the Letpadaung copper mine near Monywa in Sagaing Region, and the Thilawa deep sea port near Yangon. He has also requested a visit to Kayin State.
“In Rakhine State, I hope to be able to assess what steps the Government has taken to improve the human rights situation there, including in Maungdaw township,” the statement quoted Mr Ojea Quintana as saying.
He will meet members of the state and Union governments and representatives of the Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim communities, it said.
The visits to the Letpadaung copper mine and Thilawa deep sea port are aimed at determining how economic development is serving the needs of the people.
“These development projects can have a positive impact on a whole range of human rights, including health care, an adequate standard of living and education,” Mr Ojea Quintana said.
“However, if not pursued in accordance with human rights standards, they can lead to land confiscations, forced evictions and the further disempowerment of local populations,” he said.
“Now is the time to set in stone the standards for development.”
During his visit to Kachin State, the special envoy will assess progress towards a ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organisation and meet members of local communities to discuss their hopes and aspirations.
“Important progress is being made to stop the fighting in ethnic border areas. I want to look at the implementation of the ceasefire agreements and how the underlying grievances of Myanmar’s different ethnic groups will be listened to and addressed when the post-ceasefire talks start,” Mr Ojea Quintana said.
In Nay Pyi Taw, the special envoy will meet a range of government officials and MPs, as well as senior members of the judiciary “to highlight the need to make key changes to the Constitution to keep Myanmar’s democratic transition on track.”
“I will also follow up on my recommendations for the amendment of laws affecting the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of association and media freedom, which can set the framework for a society that upholds fundamental rights,” Mr Ojea Quintana said.
Mr Ojea Quintana, an Argentine, is scheduled to give a news conference at Yangon International Airport at 6.15pm on February 19 before he leaves Myanmar.
A report on his visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 17.