[Mr. Mike Hancock in the Chair] — Burma

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:42 am on 9th December 2009.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 10:42 am, 9th December 2009

Frankly, no. The regime is still reluctant to do so, but we believe that pressure can work. Despite the trumped-up charges in Aung San Suu Kyi's bogus trial, the regime clearly took some note of the pressure applied by the international community once the verdict was passed, so we need to maintain that pressure.

I was about to refer to the specific example of a former political prisoner about whom our ambassador wrote in his Guardian blog last week. Incredibly, the judge told this prisoner-a lawyer by profession-that he must be guilty of at least one of the 90 charges against him and, without further ado, sentenced him to 10 years' hard labour. The judge then invited him to speak, but warned him that every sentence that he uttered would add five years to his jail term. That is a recent example of what takes place from a court in Burma.