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International Human Rights Group Lambastes New Burma Constitution for Giving Junta officers Amnesty for Rape and other Crimes and Disenfranchising Women from Forever Holding Top Government Offices; Urges the United Nations to Reject Junta’s CEDAW Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 24, 2008

[NEW YORK, NY] – On Monday October 27, 2008, the 42nd session of the CEDAW Committee (the enforcement body for the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women) will meet in Geneva to question representatives from Myanmar/Burma on the junta’s compliance with CEDAW, which they ratified July 22, 1997.

BenThe Global Justice Center (GJC), a human rights group based in New York, submitted “Supplementary Legal Points of Order” to the CEDAW Committee, including:

• The Committee, in its Concluding Observations on Myanmar/Burma, released in 2000, “express(ed) ‘hope’ that the “… new Constitution being drafted [would] guarantee gender equality…”, However the 2008 constitution requires military experience for all major government offices, including the Presidency, Vice-Presidency and key ministries, as well as disenfranchising women from the block of 25% of all legislative seats reserved for (active) military. Global Justice Center President Janet Benshoof states “the junta constitution goes further than any other constitution in modern times in setting forth formal guarantees of inequality, in effect ‘constitutionalizing’ gender apartheid.”

• The GJC argues that the CEDAW Committee’s mandate is broadened by U.N Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820, which include criminal accountability for victims of sexual and gender based violence in conflict and reject amnesty for such crimes. The memo points out to the Committee that the junta “adopted” Constitution of May 10, 2008 differs in legally significantly ways from the publicly released “draft” Constitution,i including an added general amnesty for all past junta crimes and exemption of both the military and police from any civilian judicial oversight.

• GJC argues that Chief Justice Aung Toe’s role in providing junta-directed judicial orders for over twenty years renders him culpable as a co-conspirator for junta crimes. Therefore his position as Chair of the Constitution Drafting Committee further establishes the constitution’s illegitimacy. According to GJC President Benshoof “the judiciary in Burma headed by Chief Justice Aung Toe is not only unwilling to prosecute state perpetrators of rape and other heinous crimes but is itself criminally culpable of crimes against humanity as were top judges in Nazi Germany.”

• The GJC asks that the CEDAW Committee recall that the military junta has ignored all previous Committee recommendations and since 1992 has shown blatant disregard for some 30 General Assembly/Human Rights Council Resolutions and Reports by eight UN Special Rapporteurs documenting junta crimes including violations of the Geneva Conventions.

GJC President Benshoof urges the CEDAW Committee to reject the junta report outright: “General Than Shwe and his henchmen are both incapable and unwilling ever to comply with any of the Committee’s recommendations; and the fact international law including SC 1325 and 1820 requires them to be held criminally responsible for rape and other gender crimes makes their very appearance before this Committee an insult to the international community and the people of Burma, particularly women.”

See GJC letter to CEDAW here.

For further information contact:
Abby Goldberg, Director of Communications, 212-725-6530 x204, cell: 415-999-0350
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tags: CEDAW, Rule of Law, Press Release, CEDAW