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Myanmar opposes Asean rights body.

7/23/2008 7:00:46 AM

Myanmar's military government has said it will oppose any move to invest a new South-East Asian human rights body with investigative and monitoring powers.

Diplomats attending the annual Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) meeting said Myanmar officials were clear about their objections to the body having any monitoring authority.

The body proposed by the 10-member Asean will not have enforcement or prosecution powers.

Early this week a high-level Asean panel started work to set up the human rights body by outlining its composition, role and powers.

But on Monday Nyan Win, Myanmar's foreign minister, urged Asean members to uphold the group's traditional policy of non-interference in each others affairs, an unnamed diplomat present at the closed-door session with the panel, said.

Most Asean members including Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand were in favour of giving the body powers to monitor violations and offer advice.

Surin Pitsuwan, the Asean secretary-general, said the charter will serve as a guide to the panel drafting the terms of reference for the rights body.

"They're going to follow the charter very, very closely andhellip; its principle of promoting, upholding and protecting human rights," he said.

The human rights charter is expected to be tabled at a summit of Asean leaders later this year.

Cyclone aid

On Wednesday Australia announced it was stepping up emergency aid to Myanmar to help with recovery efforts in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, but said it wanted to see firm steps toward democracy taken by the country's military leaders.

Stephen Smith, the Australian foreign minister, said an additional $30m would be channelled for relief aid.

But he said he told his Myanmar counterpart at a meeting on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Asean security forum to speed up the democratic process and to respect human rights.

"We want to see Myanmar return to respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law and we want to see democracy return to Myanmar," he said.

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Publication:Aljazeera.net
Date:Jul 25, 2008
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