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Myanmar's NHRI expands education and prison monitoring activities


With a growing number of staff, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has bolstered its activities in a number of important areas.

In the first six months of this year, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission has had its staff increased to 59 and accelerated its activities in a number of important areas, including education and outreach activities and prison visits, conducted by recently appointed Commissioners and staff.

In exercising its mandate to conduct outreach activities to promote human rights, the Commission started in 2012 by conducting two outreach activities in the Yangon region. In 2013, the Commission conducted a further 24 outreach activities to government officials – mainly in the Bago and Mandalay regions and Rakhine state – providing participants with an overview of human rights law, as well as explaining the three human rights conventions ratified by Myanmar (CEDAW, CRC, CRPD) and the roles and functions of the Commission.

By reaching out to various state government officials, the Commission took a first step to establish a relationship and to raise awareness on human rights, something the officials generally appreciated since this was the first time the concept of human rights had been explained to them.

In 2014, with support from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI), the Commission conducted 28 outreach activities and visited all seven states in Myanmar: Kachin, Chin, Mon, Kayin, Shan, Karen and Rakhine states.

In the first six months of 2015, the Commission has focused its outreach and awareness raising activities for NGOs and other members of civil society. Each activity has been conducted in partnership with a human rights NGO.

In the last two and half years, the Commission has conducted outreach activities to a total of 75 townships in every state and region of the country (see full list), an impressive programme for a new Commission with very limited resources.

The Commission has also been active in conducting inspection of prisons in the Yangon area and in several other regions, including Shan State and Rakhine State (see the press statement following the visit to the Central Prison in Yangon Region).

In March 2015, the Commission conducted a workshop on prevention of violence against women which considered a new draft law on prevention of violence against women in Myanmar. This workshop included participants from relevant government ministries and NGOs, as well as Commissioners and staff.

In July, with support from the RWI and the APF, the Commission held a second workshop on conducting a National Inquiry on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with extensive participation of NGOs representing persons with disabilities. (The law establishing the Commission currently constitutes "best practice" in the very clear and comprehensive powers it confers on the Commission to conduct a national inquiry whenever it considers there are widespread or systemic violations of human rights).

Date: 20 July 2015

Image credits

  1. ILO in Asia and the Pacific, Flickr Creative Commons