Reform Group Demands End of Military Role in Human Rights Panel
A working group reforming the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHCR) has demanded that the defence and security services have no role in the commission.
Mg Saung Kha, executive director of Athan, an organisation supporting freedom of expression, said that one of the members of the selection board reforming the MNHRC is the military-appointed minister of Home Affairs, which is a problem because many reported human rights violations are committed by the Tatmadaw (military).
“Article 5b must be amended so that the selection board does not include military members. The members should not be those who are accused of committing, condoning or being responsible for human rights violations,” he said.
The working group, which comprises 24 civil society groups, has recommended that the commission law be amended for better human rights protection.
The term of several prominent commissioners expires at the end of September, so the president must convene the selection board to either renew their terms or nominate new members.
Ko Aung Zaw Oo, a member of Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters, said the current commission just acts as a mailbox instead of taking action on human rights violations.
“When someone who has suffered a violation of human rights complains to the MNHRC, it sends the complaint to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and other agencies. That is all they do,” he said.
The working group said the current law affects the independence of the commission, as it gives too much power to the executive in the selection process.
According to the commission law, the president forms a selection board that includes the Union chief justice, minister of Home Affairs, minister of Social Welfare, attorney general, and a representative of the Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation.
The board submits a list of 30 nominees to the president, who, with the speakers of the Lower House and Upper House, selects and appoints the members of the commission.
“We recommend that this be replaced with a stipulation that parliament votes on the selection of commissioners, and that the criteria for its decision be made public,” Mg Saung Kha said.
The commission had often been criticised by non-governmental organisations for its failure to reveal and investigate human rights violations, especially those committed by the military.
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