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Advance questions and statement to Myanmar

Advance questions:

1.            We acknowledge the Government of Myanmar’s engagement by its commitment in the ongoing peace process and commend the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement. As the political dialogue soon will take place between the government and the ethnic armed groups, how will the government ensure the inclusion, representation and participation of women in the peace process and peacebuilding efforts with regards to the UNSCR 1325 – Women, Peace and Security?

2.            We commend the Government of Myanmar for their efforts towards establishing a law against unlawful interception. How will the government follow up the work done so far including the consultation with amongst others civil society, to ensure that the law can be implemented in a timely fashion?

3.            We commend the efforts from the Government of Myanmar to prevent the use of child soldiers and to demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers in Myanmar. We note that the government has taken further steps in order to ratify the optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that this was approved by Parliament this year. How will the government enact the necessary laws and penalties for those who fail to follow the convention’s rules and regulations once ratified? How could the government work together with NGO and UN partners on this issue? 

4.            Economic and social rights are an integral part of human rights.  How can the Government of Myanmar ensure that the whole population benefits from the activities of extractive industries, especially related to natural resources? How does the government ensure the local population’s rights to be heard and their right to free, prior and informed consent ahead of new development projects?

5.            We note the steps taken by the Government in order to reform the media and freedom of speech. Still we receive reports of arrested journalists. We would welcome information on the steps by the government to ensure a free media, freedom of expression and protection of journalists.

Statement:

Mr. President,

Norway welcomes the delegation from Myanmar and commends the country on the recent signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement. We support the ongoing democratization process and hope to see free and fair elections on November 8. We acknowledge the measures taken by Myanmar so far in addressing human rights challenges.

We are however concerned about the approved “Protection of Race and Religion” bills by parliament earlier this year, as these laws violate basic human rights.

Norway is also concerned about arrests during peaceful demonstrations and that political prisoners continue to face arbitrary detentions. We recommend the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders, student activists and political prisoners, and to end ongoing trials of political detainees. Norway further recommends to create and maintain a safe and enabling environment for civil society, human rights defenders and journalists. 

We are also concerned about punitive measures regarding illegal abortions, and recommend that Myanmar reviews the provisions in its penal code which contain punitive measures against women who have undergone illegal abortions.

Finally, we recommend that the government prohibit and prosecute hate speech and discriminatory practices that incite violence towards minorities, and especially to clearly endorse non-discrimination and the right of all individuals in Rakhine State to equal protection under the law.