Dozens of civil society organisations (CSOs) say the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) must improve its performance to increase its credibility.
Earlier this week, the CSOs released a report, “Return to Sender: MNHRC Enabling Law Must be Returned to Parliament for Structural Reform,” containing a critical analysis and suggestions for improvement of the commission.
The report claims that the commission is being used as a shield to protect the Tatmadaw (military) and that it does not appear to represent victims who make accusations against the military. Under MNHRC Law 2014, the commission has a broad mandate to uphold human rights in the country, the report said.
Mr Alex Moodie, research director of the group Progressive Voice, said the report is meant to help the commission strengthen its performance.
“As we have connections with the commission and work with them, a draft of the report was sent to them in July. They acknowledged receipt of the draft, but nothing more was said,” Moodie added.
U Thwin Lin Aung, director of the Genuine People’s Servants group, claims the commission’s image has been tarnished by declining public trust in the commission’s actions and power.
“We need a strong national human rights institution free of the influence of the government and Tatmadaw,” he said.
The report states that the commission has neither the will nor independence from the military to adequately protect the rights of victims of military abuse.
“We invited the commission to attend the release of the report, but nobody came,” he added.
The commission needs to make surprise checks for human rights abuses in conflict areas independently and unannounced in order for them to be effective, said Thinzar Shunlei Yi, advocacy coordinator of the group Action Committee for Democracy Development.
“What is urgently needed is for Parliament to debate the issue of commission members acting on a selective basis. If this is not done, the commission will not be able to improve its performance,” she said.
Asked to comment on the report, the commission’s head, U Yu Lwin Aung, said the commission is performing as well as can be expected, given the current situation.
“We are working hard to improve human rights in the country, and one example of this work is checking prison conditions in Myanmar and the reports we issue about this. We are trying to protect human rights as much as we can,” he said.
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