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Jul-22-2013 21:21printcomments

Law Enforcement Meets Human Rights

Law enforcement officers must take their responsibility seriously and refrain from abuse.

Gay in Mandalay
Courtesy: manipurupdate.com

(DHAKA, Bangladesh) - Myanmar was one of the first countries that rectified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) when it was decreed on December 10, 1948. It is mentioned that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" and no one shall be discriminated against by "distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status." The UDHR has become the international thermometer to be respected and followed by governments around the world.

Myanmar was condemned for its human rights records in the past, but after reforms initiated by the newly elected government, the international community has welcomed it back into the fold while watching carefully its development. Many countries have lifted political and economic sanctions against Myanmar, and they expect to see the country’s authorities respecting human rights and the rule of law.

However, recent incidents in Mandalay were disturbing, when on July 7 and 8, police officials arrested transvestites and gay persons who hang around the corners of Mandalay palace moat as "public nuisances". The suspects claimed that the police harassed and abused them during their detention, saying they were forced to strip and punished in “undignified ways.”

Such police activities are contrary to human rights norms, which demand that every person is treated humanely, including criminals and detainees.

Moreover, international law states: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The constitution of Myanmar endorses this and therefore the incident falls under the bills of rights defined in the constitution.

It is worth suggesting that the existing laws and regulations be reviewed to correct the weaknesses and to stand in line with international human rights norms.

It is necessary to review oppressive laws, which are frequently used by the police to harass someone at random.

The LGBT community, for its part, should restraint from demeaning themselves in front of a society which still views them negatively. They should avoid any activities which create the impression that they are a "public nuisance".

Law enforcement officers are an important part of building a society that respects the Rule of Law. However, they must take their responsibility seriously and refrain from abusing their power. Human rights awareness training should be available to all law enforcement officials.

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