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Discussion with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma
March 17, 2014

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma

Delivered by Paula Schriefer
Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 25th Session
Of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Human Rights Council 25th Session

Geneva, March 17, 2014

The United States expresses deep gratitude to Mr. Quintana for his nearly six years serving as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.  The United States has found the Special Rapporteur’s reporting to be an invaluable source of balanced, expert analysis that has closely informed my government’s policies.  I would like to pose questions to the Special Rapporteur regarding 3 issues.

First, the United States reiterates its serious concern about the crisis in Rakhine State. We strongly support the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to reverse the increasing segregation of Rakhine and Rohingya communities,  investigate credible allegations of widespread and systematic human rights violations and hold perpetrators accountable.  What specific steps should the government take to establish accountability mechanisms to help ensure that the security forces do not continue to commit human rights violations?  What steps should the government take to address the root causes of conflict, create a path to citizenship for those Rohingya with claims, and address the pervasive discrimination and abuses against members of the Muslim population of Rakhine state?

Second, the Special Rapporteur had the opportunity to visit several key large economic projects and to speak to local communities about these projects, including the Monywa copper mine and the Dawei deep sea port in Karen State.  What specific steps does the Special Rapporteur recommend the government take to ensure large investment projects adequately take into account the impact of their activities on local communities, and do not inadvertently exacerbate conflicts — particularly in resource rich ethnic nationality areas?

Third, the United States is pleased to note the release of over 1,200 political prisoners and the government’s decision to continue the work of the political prisoner review committee.  We welcome the continuation of the committee’s work with its most recent meeting on March 1, 2014.  We note with concern that the police have made new arrests for peaceful expressions of dissent.  What specific steps would you recommend for the government to definitively resolve the political prisoner issue, and how can the international community best support this effort?

We again thank the Special Rapporteur for his outstanding service these past six years.  The United States will continue to support the people and government of Myanmar in its aspirations for democratic reform.

Thank you.