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New UN human rights chief calls for release of Myanmar political prisoners

[JURIST] The newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] on Thursday urged the military-led government of Myanmar to release its remaining political prisoners as she called attention to "unjust or inappropriate" detentions worldwide. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay [official profile], who took office last month, said during a news conference [UN News Centre report] that Myanmar continues to incarcerate an estimated 2,000 political prisoners, even after more than 9,000 prisoners were released [JURIST report] last month. In particular, Pillay condemned the continued imprisonment of pro-democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], calling the detention illegal "even in respect of [Myanmar's] laws." Pillay's comments preceded the observance of Dignity and Justice for Detainees Week [UNHCHR materials], beginning Monday, which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [declaration text]. AFP has more.

In June, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) criticized Myanmar [JURIST report] for its continued human rights abuses and refusal to cooperate with humanitarian groups. The resolution called on the Myanmar government to free political prisoners, stop recruiting child soldiers and implement earlier UNHRC resolutions regarding the country's human rights situation. The UNHRC passed a similar resolution [JURIST report] in March condemning the Myanmar government for continuous abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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