UN envoy calls on Myanmar to release prisoners

Quintana and others have criticised that vote as undemocratic, and the new government is largely still dominated by the military.

Last Updated: Aug 26, 2011, 15:35 PM IST

Yangon: The UN human rights envoy to Myanmar said on Friday at the end of his visit to the country its new government should release all political prisoners.

Myanmar installed a nominally civilian government in March but still holds more than 2,000 political prisoners.

Releasing them is a "central and necessary step toward national reconciliation," Tomas Ojea Quintana said, in Yangon on conclusion of his five-day visit.

He also told, reporters Myanmar needs an independent judiciary and should investigate alleged human rights violations.

He thanked the government for allowing his visit and access to government ministers and opposition leaders. He met with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time yesterday.

His last visit to the country was in February 2010, while Suu Kyi was under house arrest. She was freed in November shortly after Myanmar`s first election in 20 years.

Quintana and others have criticised that vote as undemocratic, and the new government is largely still dominated by the military.

He said President Thein Sein`s new government has taken some positive steps on human rights, including recognising the need for peace talks with armed ethnic groups and opening the door for exiles to return.

He called on the government to "intensify its efforts to implement its own commitments and to fulfill its international human rights obligations."

PTI