UN outlines steps to improve Myanmar’s human rights
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  • Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN special reporteur on human rights in Myanmar, outlined “core human rights elements” that should be put in place before the 2010 general election, in a statement released on October 9. The elements include: 1) Amend domestic laws that limit freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful assembly; 2) Release of political prisoners; 3) Repeal discriminatory laws; and 4) Stop the recruitment of child soldiers. "Respect for international human rights standards is indispensable" for the regime's proposed "roadmap to democracy" to gain international acceptance, Quintana said. The transition to a multi-party democratic and civil government, as planned under the new constitution, will require “an intensive process of incorporating democratic values,” Quintana said. He suggested a number of changes in the country’s judiciary, which currently is not independent1.

    The Myanmarese tycoon Tay Za, head of the Htoo Trading Company (HTC), reportedly accompanied the junta’s number two, Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, on his recent three-day visit to Bangladesh. Tay Za led a business team, which had talks with the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) on improving trade between the two countries, included launching direct shipping lines between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The delegation also discussed with their Bangladesh hosts the purchase of 100,000 tons of rice from Myanmar, besides energy cooperation, the construction of a trans-border road and the delimitation of maritime boundaries. The delegation agreed to supply natural gas to Bangladesh to help it produce fertilizer for use in both countries2.