Human rights commission members resign

FOUR members of the embattled Myanmar National Human Rights Commission have resigned following widespread public anger over their handling of an investigation into the alleged abuse of two housemaids.

The President’s Office said in a brief statement that the four commissioners – U Zaw Win, Dr Nyan Zaw, Dr Than Nwe, Daw Mya Mya – had resigned of their own volition as permitted under section 17 of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission Law.

Their departure leaves the commission with seven members, the minimum required under the law. It was not immediately clear if the four would be replaced.

The resignations come amid a government investigation into the commission’s handling of the abuse case, which was brought to light by journalist Ko Swe Win of Myanmar Now.

The commission on September 15 brokered a settlement between the two girls, aged 17 and 16, who alleged they had been tortured and forced to work without pay in a family tailoring business in downtown Yangon for several years.

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The girls received payments of K4 million and K1 million from their alleged abusers. 

News of the payments – and the commission’s role in brokering them – prompted widespread anger.

Commission members involved in the settlement, including Zaw Win and Mya Mya, held a press conference on September 21 and denied allegations they had covered up the alleged offences. They said filing a complaint to police would have placed a financial burden on the girls’ families without any guarantee of a satisfactory outcome.

However, the same day the Department of Social Welfare filed a complaint to police against the accused for alleged human trafficking. They are also facing charges under the penal code and Child Law. Six members of the family are in custody.

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