Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America as delivered by Jessica Carl
31st Session of the Human Rights Council
March 14, 2016
The United States strongly supports Ms. Yanghee Lee and her excellent human rights reporting on Myanmar. The government has embarked on a long and challenging road to democracy. The government has taken a number of key steps in the right direction. However, we remain concerned about continued military influence over the parliament and key ministries and abuses and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, including the Rohingya. We are also concerned about legal restrictions on freedoms of speech, assembly, and association.
We pose four questions:
Question 1: Political Prisoners & Civil/Political Rights
- We are concerned by reports of arbitrary arrests of journalists, students, and civil society activists, with more than 80 political prisoners incarcerated and nearly 400 activists awaiting trial. How can we encourage the new government to better protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly?
Question 2: Legal Reform
- We are concerned the package of legislation on population control, interfaith marriage, religious conversion, and monogamy could be enforced in a way that undermines religious freedom, women’s rights, and ongoing efforts to promote tolerance, diversity, and national unity. What can the international community do to encourage the new government to revise these laws to bring them in line with its international human rights commitments?
Question 3: Discrimination Against Ethnic and Religious Minorities, including the Rohingya
- How can the government ensure unrestricted humanitarian access to all vulnerable populations, while promoting access to livelihoods and individuals’ freedom of movement?
Question 4: OHCHR Office
- We are concerned about the current government’s refusal to permit the opening of an OHCHR office. How can the international community persuade the new government of the utility of an office with a full mandate?
The United States will continue to support the people of Myanmar in their aspirations to fully realize their human rights and in continuing their democratic reform efforts.