(Hong Kong, January 5, 2010) The Asian Legal Resource Centre has urged a group of United Nations human rights specialists “to operate to their fullest possible capacity” in the interests of a young man being tried in Burma’s central prison, who has alleged that he was severely tortured to confess to a crime that he did not commit.
In a letter sent yesterday, January 4, the Hong Kong-based regional rights group reminded a number of U.N. independent experts that since August when the ALRC sent a special dossier on the case of Phyo Wai Aung and two others, his trial has continued and there has been no manifest change or improvement in his circumstances.
“We firmly believe that strong interventions from a number of [U.N.] special procedures simultaneously could have some effect, and at least alleviate the worst features of imprisonment for this young man,” the group’s director, Wong Kai Shing, said in the letter.
Phyo Wai Aung has been held in solitary confinement and denied rights to exercise while in custody.
The ALRC addressed its letter to the Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar (Burma), on torture, and on the independence of judges and lawyers, in support of continued efforts by the family of the detainee to obtain a fair trial and also to be treated humanely while in custody. It also sent copies to the Working Group on arbitrary detention, and to the regional U.N. human rights office in Bangkok.
Phyo Wai Aung’s relatives and lawyer have been obstructed from attending the trial, and he has reportedly been repeatedly abused in custody. He has also said that he was savagely tortured for nine days during interrogation, to have him confess to involvement in a bombing last April.
The Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, in his report of September 15 to the U.N. General Assembly noted that, “During Phyo Wai Aung’s trial, which was held behind closed doors in Insein prison, it is reported that he was not allowed to see his case file and the confidentiality of his meetings with his lawyers was reportedly breached by police.”
Quintana emphasised to the government that the prison authorities needed to comply with international standards fore administration of justice, “including the treatment of prisoners, role of lawyers, role of prosecutors, independence of the judiciary and conduct of law enforcement officials”.
The sister organisation of the ALRC, the Asian Human Rights Commission, has set up a special campaign page for Phyo Wai Aung, at: http://www.humanrights.asia/campaigns/phyo-wai-aung/
About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.