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Burma; U.N. Human Rights Council: Resolution Critical of Record on Freedoms

(Mar. 31, 2010) On March 26, 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a resolution calling for Myanmar's (Burma's) government to ensure that this year's elections are free and transparent. The HRC, which includes 47 member nations, had started its 13th regular session at the beginning of March. It criticized Myanmar's new electoral laws as not meeting international community expectations. The legislation covers registration of political parties and prohibits anyone with a criminal conviction from belonging to a party. (Human Rights Violations in Myanmar Criticized by UN Body, UN NEWS CENTRE, Mar. 26, 2010, available at

The HRC also criticized Myanmar for violations of the fundamental freedoms of its people and urged the government there to stop making politically motivated arrests and to release all prisoners of conscience. There are believed to be over 2,000 such prisoners in the country, including the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest. (Id.)

On the same day, the HRC extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar for one year. The Rapporteur, Tomás Ojea Quintana, has said that it does not appear that the government will release the political prisoners before the elections. He added, “[w]ithout full participation, including by the some 2,100 prisoners of conscience, and an environment that allows people and parties to engage in the range of electoral activities, the elections cannot be credible.” (Id.)

The HRC adopted 29 resolutions in all in the recent session; of those, 20 were passed by consensus. Many topics were covered, including torture and the rights of the child. (Id.)