Make Burma meet benchmarks before dropping sanctions, says ITUC

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Burma needs to address chronic human rights abuses before sanctions are lifted says a new report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Download the ITUC Burma sanctions benchmarks report.

Despite some positive signs of change in Burma, forced labour is still widely practiced, trade unions are still illegal and hundreds of political prisoners are still in jail. Accordingly, the report states that 'We do not believe that the time is yet ripe for a major revision of sanctions'.

The report argues that sanctions should only be lifted if the government of Burma:

Eliminates forced labour: widespread forced labour practices by civilian and military authorities in almost all of the country's states and divisions. The government of Burma has failed to fulfil any of the steps required of it to eliminate forced labour in the country, as recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1998.

Allows independent and democratic trade unions: despite recently passing a Labour Organisation Law, the government is yet to implement it. The law also contains significant flaws, and is undermined by other legislation. Further, the Federation of Trade Unions - Burma (FTUB), a member of the ITUC, is still a banned organisation. The government of Burma, unions and employers and the ILO need to redraft the law and oversee its effective implementation.

Frees all political prisoners: The government has released hundreds of political prisoners, yet more than a 1,000 remain in jail, and many more remain in exile. Prisoners need to be released unconditionally, and provided with rehabilitation. The laws that put them in jail in the first place need to be scrapped.

The report also call on the Burmese authorities to: end all other serious human rights abuses; enter into a nation-wide ceasefire and address the root causes of conflict; hold free and fair elections, including through amending the flawed 2008 constitution; and curtail the role of the military in government and the economy.

The report calls for 'a gradual, measured lifting of sanctions as the government of Burma makes progress on this complete list'.

The report has been developed in close consultation with the FTUB, and is in response to growing calls for the EU, US, Canada and Australia to lift their sanctions against Burma.

While the ITUC report mainly focuses on labour rights, it urges 'governments to be also guided by the recommendations of other civil society organisations that raise additional and compelling human rights concerns'.

Download the ITUC Burma sanctions benchmarks report

For more information see also 'Are workers now free in Burma?'

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