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UN rights expert commends Myanmar for disbanding border patrol force

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar [official website], Tomas Ojea Quintana, on Tuesday commended [text] the Myanmar government for disbanding the Nasaka [Reuters backgrounder], a border patrol force that had been operating in Rakhine state [Economist backgrounder]. The Nasaka have been accused of numerous humans rights violations against the local Rohingya population, including extrajudicial killings and torture. The move comes following a March report [text, PDF] by Quintana recommending the government "fundamentally reform this border security force and, in the meantime, suspend all of Nasaka's operations in Rakhine State." The Special Rapporteur, while welcoming the development, warned that "the abolition of Nasaka should not mean that the credible allegations of widespread and systematic human rights violations committed by its members are not properly investigated and the perpetrators held to account." Quintana voiced the strong need for accountability in future border forces to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations.

Concern over Myanmar's sectarian violence and human rights record has been growing recently, as the country has attempted to normalize relationships with the US. Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] demanded that the government of Myanmar do more to combat religious and ethnic discrimination [JURIST report] against minorities or risk undermining the reform movement in the country. In May Quintana released a statement welcoming recommendations [JURIST report] by the Myanmar government's Rakhine Investigation Commission but at the same time also voicing a strong need for the government to address impunity and ensure investigations into credible allegations of systematic human rights violations against Muslims in Rakhine state. In April Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] demanded that the Myanmar government investigate and hold accountable [JURIST report] those involved in the deadly violence in the Mandalay Region in March, in which an estimated 40 people were killed and 61 more were wounded. Also in April Quintana expressed serious concerns [JURIST report] in a report on growing violence between Muslim and Buddhist communities in Myanmar. The Special Rapporteur urged bold action by the Myanmar government to combat this trend, and stated that government inaction has helped fuel the spread of discrimination and prejudice against Muslim communities across the country.

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