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A proposal calling for punitive action against the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) for its poor handling of an abuse case that made headlines last week was passed by parliament’s lower house on Monday.
The proposal, put forward by Htay Win Aung, an MP for Dawbon Township in Rangoon, was discussed by 17 lawmakers, including a military representative, in the lower house on Monday.
The majority of the MPs who discussed the proposal were from the ruling National League for Democracy and voiced support for its call to take action against the commission. The military MP who joined the discussion, Major Aung Zin Min, also slammed the MNHRC for failing in its duty to protect the victims’ human rights.
“There was some suggestion that certain commission members did not cooperate substantially with concerned legal departments in dealing with the case and mediated the negotiation [between the abusers and their victims] to take pressure off the perpetrators, while failing to follow official procedures, indicating that they have failed to uphold the objectives and responsibilities of their commission,” said Aung Zin Min.
The resolution calling for action against the MNHRC passed with 374 votes in favour, one against and eight abstentions.
Zaw Win, a member of the MNHRC who addressed parliament during the discussion, said the commission was acting with sincere intentions in its handling of the case.
“Our commission, unlike human rights commissions in other countries, has no legal mandate to pass judgement or take action against [human rights perpetrators]. We are limited to making recommendations to concerned government departments about what actions should be taken as necessary,” said Zaw Win.
“That’s why we reached out to the Rangoon regional police forced and urged them to deal with the matter accordingly. We notified the concerned department to deal with the case and then negotiated between the victims and the [tailor shop] only with the honest intention of easing the victims’ pain.”
Five individuals are currently in police custody in connection with the case, which involved two young housemaids at the well-known Ava Tailors garment shop in downtown Rangoon who accused their former employers of enslaving and torturing them.