GENEVA–International labor experts on Saturday called on the Myanmar government to amend a provision in the country’s new constitution that could be interpreted as justifying forced labor.
A special session at the International Labor Organization on the forced labor situation in Myanmar concluded that the steps taken by the ruling junta towards eradicating forced labor were “totally inadequate.”
In a report presented at the meeting, the experts pointed to a provision in the new constitution referring to “duties assigned thereupon by the State in accord with the law in the interests of the people.”
The experts expressed deep concern about a provision in the text of the Constitution that “may be interpreted in such a way as to allow a generalized exaction of forced labor from the population.”
They called on the government to amend the new constitution, which is meant to take effect in 2010, to bring it into conformity with labor rules.
Myanmar’s representative however said the government “cannot accept criticism on our constitution process”, which he said had been adopted by over 90 percent of voters.
ILO experts said that exploitation remained rampant in the Asian country, adding “there is no genuine and sustained political will to end forced labor.”
They also raised “serious concern on the continued human rights violations in Myanmar and the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi” and other political prisoners.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail on charges of having breached the conditions of her house arrest after an incident in which US national John Yettaw swam to her lakeside home in May.
The authorities in Myanmar accused Suu Kyi of covering up the American’s presence and rebuked her for offering him food and shelter, allegations that have sparked international outrage. –Agence France-Presse
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