Myanmar reform needs to get back on track, says UN rights chief

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Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras (file)

Myanmar's reform seems headed in the wrong direction and needs urgently to get back on track, the UN human rights chief has warned.

2015 is a crucial year for the country's democratic transition and long-term reconciliation, said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

General elections are expected to be held in Myanmar towards the end of 2015.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

The new space for freedom of expression in Myanmar and peaceful protests has been curtailed by a regressive application of the law, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights deplored.

Last week, 14 members of the minority Michaungkan community were jailed for peacefully protesting the alleged confiscation of their land by the military.

In 2014, ten journalists were also jailed under outdated defamation, trespassing and national security laws.

Meanwhile, authorities in the Southeast Asian nation have announced the expiry of "white cards" held mainly by ethnic minorities like the stateless Rohingya Muslims.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he believed the decision is designed to prevent these card holders from being eligible to vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum and the general elections later this year.

Ensuring democratic space will be critically important for the upcoming constitutional referendum and elections, he stressed.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’01″

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