UN calls on Myanmar to keep prisoner release promise

A UN committee on Tuesday called on Myanmar to stick to a promise to release all political prisoners by the end of the year.

While welcoming major reforms started by the government as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule, the UN General Assembly's rights committee expressed concern at new detentions of political activists.

An annual resolution on Myanmar was passed by consensus by the 193 nation-committee, having been toned down from past years because of changes already ordered by President Thein Sein.

The resolution welcomed the release of scores of political prisoners and Thein Sein's promise that all would be freed by the end of the year.

It urged the government "to continue the process and to fulfil its commitment to release them by the end of 2013, without conditions, and to ensure the full restoration of their rights and freedoms."

The resolution also expressed "concern about remaining human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions of political activists and human rights defenders, forced displacement, land confiscations, rape and other forms of sexual violence and torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

European and US envoys called on Myanmar to step up the reform efforts.

US ambassador Samantha Power commented this week that "progress" has been made in Myanmar but added that there is "more to do" in the country which was ruled by a junta until 2011.

The UN resolution, which will move to the full UN General Assembly, acknowledged "the scale of the reform effort undertaken" so far in Myanmar.