Monthly Archives: December 2015

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After months of deliberation, Burma’s new investment law was approved by a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday, replacing interim laws passed earlier in the term of President Thein Sein.

The law, which combines the 2012 Foreign Investment Law and the 2013 Myanmar Citizens Investment Law, alters the mandate of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and adds some nominal human rights protections to future foreign investment projects, among other changes.

Aung Naing Oo, director-general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, told reporters in September that the investment law addressed human rights concerns raised by non-governmental organizations in the past.



Judicial Accountability: 2015 Geneva Forum of Judges & Lawyers

More than 40 senior judges and lawyers from all parts of the world – including Myanmar – have made an important contribution to efforts to hold judges accountable for involvement in human rights violations and judicial corruption, by participating in the sixth annual ICJ Geneva Forum of Judges & Lawyers.

The Geneva Forum is organized annually by the ICJ’s Centre for Independence of Judges & Lawyers (CIJL) and brings together judges, lawyers and prosecutors from around the world, together with UN officials and representatives from international professional associations of legal professionals, as well as academics and other experts.

This year’s Geneva Forum (14-15 December) formed part of a larger CIJL project to promote judicial accountability, through sharing of knowledge about relevant international standards and international and national good practices, between the judiciary, other legal actors, and governments and civil society around the world.

The focus of the project is on judicial involvement in human rights violations such as unjust executions, prolonged arbitrary detention including imprisonment after deliberately unfair trials, judges providing impunity to perpetrators or enforced disappearance and torture, as well as judicial corruption that leads to human rights violations.

Victims of such violations have the right to remedy and reparation, including in relation to the role of judges, and society as a whole should be able to be confident that those responsible for such judicial misconduct will be held to account.

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The  international community greeted the overwhelming victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in November’s parliamentary elections with optimism.

This included foreign investors, who welcomed the election results, expecting that the change in government will drive economic growth and lead to the easing of remaining sanctions.

Foreign investment will no doubt increase substantially in this new climate. Of course, this investment has the potential to bring much-needed economic development and jobs.

Yet the new government will face conflicting priorities. It will have to complete a fragile peace process with ethnic groups, tackle corruption and the absence of rule of law, and address serious human rights issues, all while reforming the economic agenda, and ensuring the stability that investors want.

There are serious risks that Myanmar’s natural resources and labour force will only benefit domestic elites and foreign companies, while disadvantaged communities will continue to suffer the negative impacts of poorly regulated business activities,” said Jeff Vogt, ITUC legal director.

“Foreign investors have to undertake human rights due diligence to ensure that the rights of workers they and their suppliers hire are fully protected.”

27 November 2015, 12:16 UTC

Myanmar’s government stands accused of putting profits before human rights at the Letpadaung copper mine, with continued detention of activists and continued refusal to investigate use of white phosphorous against peaceful protestors, said Amnesty International today.

Three years ago, on 29 November 2012, security forces used white phosphorous, a highly toxic explosive substance, in a deliberate attack on villagers and monks who were protesting the negative impacts of the Letpadaung mine, part of the Monywa copper mining project in the Sagaing region of North-West Myanmar. Between 110 and 150 people were injured, with some suffering horrific burns and lifelong disability.

Background: Open for Business?

Amnesty International documented police use of white phosphorous, among other serious human rights abuses and illegal activity related to the Monywa copper mine project, in a report published in February 2015.

The Monywa project comprises the Sabetaung and Kyisintaung (S&K) and the Letpadaung copper mines. S&K has been operational since the 1980s. Letpadaung is under construction. Subsidiaries of Wanbao Mining Ltd, owned by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), operate both mines.

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