Saturday, February 28, 2009

ILO, Burma extend ‘supplementary understanding’

by Mungpi

New Delhi (Mizzima) - The International Labour Organization and Burma’s military regime on Thursday extended Supplementary Understanding on the treatment of complaints lodged against forced labour for another 12 months, Burma’s state-run newspaper said.

The New Light of Myanmar, Burma’s military junta’s mouthpiece, on Friday reported that Burma’s Labour Minister Aung Kyi and ILO’s Executive Director Mr. Kari Tapiola on Thursday signed the extension of the Supplementary Understanding.

The ILO and Burma reached an agreement in February 2007 to establish a complaint mechanism for victims of forced labour. Under the agreement, the ILO was allowed to have a liaison officer in Rangoon.

This Supplementary Understanding supports the application of existing laws prohibiting the use of forced labour in Burma and provides a complaints’ mechanism, facilitated by the ILO Liaison Officer in Rangoon.

Under Article 1 of the Supplementary Understanding, Burmese citizens can, with protection from reprisal, seek justice under the law if they are subjected to forced labour.

The Burmese junta’s Labour Minister Aung Kyi said, signing the extension of the Supplementary Understanding supports Burma’s “political commitment to the eradication of forced labour.”

Human Rights groups have criticised military-ruled Burma for its appalling human rights records and has documented the widespread use of forced labour in building army camps, constructing roads and even including forced conscription of children into the army.

Aung Myo Min, the director of the Thailand-based Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), in an earlier interview with Mizzima said, the Burmese Army has at least 60,000 child soldiers.

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