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Burma: Political Prisoners

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 10th February 2010.

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Photo of John Pugh John Pugh Shadow Minister (Health), Shadow Minister (Treasury)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made representations to the Burmese authorities on permitting the International Committee of the Red Cross to resume its inspection of prisons in Burma.

Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The refusal of the Burmese authorities to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) independent and unsupervised access to political prisoners remains a grave concern, particularly as the number of prisoners of conscience has doubled to over 2100 since the 'Saffron revolution' in autumn 2007. We continue to urge the military government to co-operate fully with the ICRC and allow an immediate resumption of prison visits.

The UN General Assembly highlighted their concern at the condition of prisons and urged the regime to comply with human rights law in a resolution passed in November 2009. Our Ambassador in Rangoon last raised the issue of independent prison access for the ICRC to the Burmese government in August 2009 during the last visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma. Our Ambassador regularly raises the plight of political prisoners with Burmese ministers, and we remain in close contact with the ICRC on this issue.

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