Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Monitor

October 3rd, 2016  •  Author:    •  8 minute read

On 5 September 2011, the Burma Government announced that it had established the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) which would be charged with promoting and safeguarding the fundamental rights of citizens in accordance with the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions, otherwise known as the Paris Principles.

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the Paris Principles set forth minimum standards for the creation of a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI), along with its practical obligations and responsibilities.

With the passing of its enabling law through the Burma Parliament in March 2014, the MNHRC established its mandate. It is currently in the process of applying for accreditation with the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions.

The establishment of the MNHRC can largely be seen as an attempt at placating the international community at that time; most notably, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, Tomás Ojea Quintana, who had been calling for the establishment of a UN-led Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in the country.

Yet so far, the MNHRC has shown it is unable to uphold its mandate of human rights protection and promotion due in large part to a severe lack of independence, effectiveness, and transparency.

Within the enabling law and in regular practice, the President and the Executive have a disproportionate amount of power when selecting new Commission Members while engagement with external stakeholders, a stipulation of the Paris Principles, is absent in the practice of the MNHRC.

Despite being operational for less than five years, the MNHRC has already demonstrated on numerous occasions that it will allow human rights investigations to be overruled or influenced by the Burma Army. The controversial prosecution of Brang Shawng, who was charged in a criminal court after issuing a complaint to the MNHRC regarding the death of his daughter at the hands of the Burma Army, showed how the NHRI was incapable of preventing the intimidation of human rights defenders and the inability to hold the military accountable.

A similar theme of military impunity was found in the case of Ko Par Gyi, in which a military tribunal privately acquitted two soldiers who killed the journalist in military custody against recommendations made by the MNHRC that the case be handled in a public court of law. The report of the MNRHC investigation itself was full of inconsistencies and did not address the signs of torture on the body of the murdered journalist.

Inaction is another stain on the legitimacy of the MNHRC. Currently, hundreds of political activists remain imprisoned or awaiting trial on baseless charges and peaceful activists continue to be met with ruthless force and arbitrary arrest for merely criticizing the actions of the Burma Government. The Burma Army continues to commit systematic and widespread human rights abuses such as extrajudicial killing, sexual violence, torture, and forced labor in conflict and non-conflict areas. In other parts of Burma, ethnic minorities are being confined to camps and face systematic discrimination abuse from the highest levels of Government and society. Throughout all of this, the MNHRC has remained shockingly quiet – only conducting human rights investigations when the political risk is non-existent.

For the MNHRC to be effective, it must demonstrate a commitment to the international standards set forth in the Paris Principles. This includes constructing a meaningful and recurring dialogue with civil society, abolishing the influence of the President and the Burma Army, and advocating for the protection of human rights defenders. The international community must also seek to pressure the Burma Government into creating an NHRI that is truly in line with the Paris Principles and that has proven its dedication to the promotion and protection of human rights.

Reports by Civil Society Organizations

Statement No. (6/2016) မြန္ျပည္နယ္၊ သထုံခရိုင္၊ က်ိဳက္ထုိၿမိဳ ႔နယ္၊ သိမ္ဇရပ္ေက်းရြာအုပ္စုအတြင္း ျဖစ္ပြားခဲ့ေသာ ရုန္းရင္းဆန္ခတ္မႈမ်ားႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္ ၍သတင္းထုန္ျပန္ခ်က္ ( 9 May 2016)

Statement No. (5/2016) ကခ်င္ျပည္နယ္၊ ျမစ္ႀကီးနားၿမိဳ ႔တြင္ တည္ရွိေသာ အက်ဥ္းေထာင္၊ ရဲအခ်ဳပ္ခန္း၊ ေဆးရုံအခ်ဳပ္ခန္း၊ တရားရုံးအခ်ဳပ္ခန္းႏွင့္ထိန္းသိမ္းေစာင့္ေရွာက္ေရးစခန္းတုိ႔အား ၾကည့္ရႈစစ္ေဆးျခင္းႏွင့္ပတ္သက္ ၍ သတင္းထုန္ျပန္ခ်က္ ( 21 April 2016)

Statement No. (4/2016) ျမန္မာႏုိင္ငံအမ်ိဳးသားလူ႔အခြင့္အေရးေကာ္မရွင္၏သတင္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္ ( 8 April 2016)

Statement No. (3/2016) ကယားျပည္နယ္၊ လြိဳင္ေကာ္ၿမိဳ ႔တြင္ တည္ရွိေသာအက်ဥ္းေထာင္၊ တရားရုံးအခ်ဳပ္ခန္း၊ ရဲအခ်ဳပ္ခန္းႏွင့္ ျပည္သူ႔ေဆးရုံအခ်ဳပ္တို႔အား ၾကည့္ရႈစစ္ေဆးျခင္းႏွင့္ စပ္လ်ဥ္း၍ သတင္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္(13 March 2016)

Statement No.(2/2016) Statement Regarding the Visit to the Prison, Police lock-up and District Hospital Guard ward in Hkamti township, Sagaing Region
(29 February 2016)

Statement No.(1/2016) Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Press Statement Regarding Squatter (3 February 2016)

Statement No.(16/2015) Statement by Myanmar National Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day which falls on 10 December 2015 (10 December 2015)

Myanmar Rights Commission Calls For Political Prisoner Amnesty Before Elections ( 28 October 2015)

Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Statement No.(15/2015) ( 27 October 2015)

Statement No (14/2015) တနသာၤရီတုိင္းေဒသၾကီး၊ ေကာ့ေသာင္းျမိဳ႔ႏွင့္ ျမိတ္ျမိဳ႔မ်ားတြင္ တည္ရွိေသာအက်ဥ္းေထာင္ႏွင့္ ရဲအခ်ဳပ္ခန္းတုိ႔အား ၾကည့္ရႈစစ္ေဆးျခင္းႏွင့္ပတ္သက္၍ သတင္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္ (19 October 2015)

Statement No (14/2015) Statement regarding the visit to the Prison and Police Lockup of Kaw Thaung Township and Myeik Township Situated in Tanintharyi Region (19 October 2015)

Statement No.(13/2015) Myanmar National Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and eight Ethnics Armed Organizations ( 15 October 2015)

Statement No. (12/2015)ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံအမ်ိဳးသားလူ႔အခြင့္အေရးေကာ္မရွင္ ၁၀-၃-၂၀၁၅ တြင္ လက္ပံတန္းျမိဳ႔၍ အမ်ိဳးသား ပညာေရးဥပေဒ ျပင္ဆင္ေပးေရးအတြက္ ဆႏၵျပေသာ သပိတ္စစ္ေၾကာင္းအား ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံရဲတပ္ဖဲြ႔မွ ဖမ္းဆီးထိန္းသိမ္းခဲ့မႈႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္၍ သတင္းထုတ္ျပန္ခ်က္ ( 11 September 2015)

Statement No. (12/2015) Statement with regards to the apprehension and detention of the demonstrators protesting for the reform of National Education Law at Latpadan on 10 March 2015 ( 11 September 2015)

Statement No.(11/2015) Statement regarding the Application of bail for the (4)Student Demonstrators of Yadanarpon University, Mandalay Region to Appear for the Examination Statement ( 11 September 2015)

Statement No. (10/2015) Statement of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission ( 30 July 2015)

Statement No. (9/2015) Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Statement with respect to the students and supporters detained in Thayarwaddy Prison ( 20 July 2015)

Statement No. (8/2015) Visit to Mandalay, Naung Cho, Thi Paw and Lashio Township Prisons and Work Stations ( 7 July 2015)

Statement No. (7/2015) The Visit to Maing-Sat Prison in Shan State ( 20 May 2015)

Statement No. (6/2015) The case Involving the Death of Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi ( 8 May 2015)

Statement No. (5/2015) The visit by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission team to the prisons and detention centres in Sittwe and Buthidaung townships in Rakhine ( 30 April 2015)

Outcome Statement of senior officials Workshop on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and Related Resolution ( 29 April 2015)

Statement No. (4/2015) Agreement by the Two Sides on the Draft Text on Nationwide Ceasefire ( 1 April 2015)

Statement No. (3/2015) The Visit to Insein Central Prison
( 3 March 2015)

Statement No.(2/2015) The Armed Conflict in Laukkai Area ( 27 February 2015)

Statement No. (1/2015) On the Inquiry of Riots of 22nd December 2014 at Latpadaungtaung Copper Mine Project in Salingyi Township
( 14 January 2015)

Statement On the International Human Rights Day ( 10 December 2014)

Statement No. (2/2014) Investigation of the Incident at the Ducheeratan Village ( 17 February 2014)

Statement No. (1/2014) On the Presidential Order of Pardon ( 3 January 2014)

Statement No. (4/2013) On the International Human Rights Day ( 10 December 2013)

Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Acceptance of Complaints (26 September 2013)

Statement No. (3/2013) Concerning Violence That Had Occurred in Rakhine State (7 May 2013)

Statement No. (2/2013) Regarding the Conflict in Kachin State (28 March 2013)

Statement No. (1/2013) on Humanitarian Assistance for the Conflict Victims of the Kachin State (18 January 2013)

Statement (8/2012) on the International Human Rights Day (10 December 2012)

Statement Concerning Its Membership in South East Asia NHRIs Forum (SEANF) No. 6/2012 (17 September 2012)

Statement on Its Trip to the Kachin State (5/2012) (14 August 2012)

Statement No. (4/2012) Concerning Incidents in Rakhine State in June 2012 (11 July 2012)

Statement on the Plan of Action for Prevention Against Recruitment of the Under-Aged Children for Military Service (2 July 2012)

Statement on Its Establishment and Its Current Status of Functioning (27 March 2012)

Statement by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (14 January 2012)

Statement on its visits to the Insein Prison and Hlay-Hlaw-Inn Yebet Prison Labour Camp (30 December 2011)

Statement on its visit to Kachin State (13 December 2011)

Statement on International Human Rights Day (10 December 2011)

Statement by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (27 November 2011)

Open Letter to President Thein Sein (12 November 2011)

Open Letter to President Thein Sein (10 October 2011)

Myanmar National Human Rights Commission – Accepting of Complaint (6 October 2011)

Reports By Myanmar National Human Rights Commission

Universal Declaration of Human Rights text from English to Myanmar ( 19 June 2013)

Presentation by Win Mra on Recent Developments on Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) Complaints Handling, Investigations and Cooperation with the Special Procedures of the United Nations (May 2013)

Activities of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (5 September 2011 to 31 January 2012) (31 January 2012)


MNHRC Official Website

Asia-Pacific Forum: Criteria for an NHRI

Office of the High Commission for Human Rights: NHRIs