Myanmar: UN human rights office welcomes presidential pardon for political prisoners

31 December 2013 – The United Nations human rights office today welcomed the presidential pardon granted in Myanmar to political prisoners convicted of or prosecuted for various offences under seven specific laws, including unlawful association, peaceful assembly, treason and sedition.

The pardon, granted yesterday by President Thein Sein, is an “important step” in the reform process of the last year, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement.

It also shows the significant progress that has been made in solving the problem of political prisoners in Myanmar, in line with the President’s pledge, the Office added, referring to the leader’s stated commitment to release all political prisoners by the end of this year.

“We look forward to working with the Government and other stakeholders to reform these laws to ensure that there will be no cases of people being held as political prisoners,” said OHCHR spokesperson Cécile Pouilly.

At the same time, OHCHR regretted that the presidential pardon did not include three workers of international non-governmental organizations who were detained in Buthidaung Prison since June and July 2012, and human rights defenders in Rakhine state, Dr. Tun Aung and U Kyaw Hla Aung, detained since June 2012 and July 2013 respectively.

“We ask the authorities to release those prisoners and to ensure that the prisoner review committee continue its work to resolve all pending cases,” Ms. Pouilly stated.

Hundreds of political prisoners in the South-east Asian nation have been released since the President initiated a series of reforms two years ago following the establishment of a new Government.