Key Points

An examination of the Universal Periodic Review of (UPR) Myanmar across two cycles (2009, 2014) reveals the following:

  • Discrimination by the state and serious violations of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) of ethnic and religious minorities, notably the Rohingya community and also against Christians and Buddhist groups;

  • Discriminatory laws might discriminate against the right to convert to another religion;

  • Persecution of the Muslim community in Rakhine State, which is denied citizenship and fundamental rights; and

  • Inconsistencies between domestic legal instruments on FoRB as well as nonconformity with international standards.

Key UPR Recommendations on FoRB

The following recommendations, among many, were made on FoRB across two cycles:

  • Bring all domestic legislation with international standards and remove restrictions on fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom;

  • Protect the right of ethnic and religious minorities to enjoy fundamental rights, including FoRB and end discrimination against minorities;

  • Recognize the Rohingyas and grant them citizenship;

  • Investigate and prosecute violators of FoRB and other fundamental rights; and

  • Respect the right to convert to a religion of one’s choice.

Follow-up Action for Parliamentarians

Whereas the Government of Myanmar has noted its guarantees on FoRB, Parliamentarians must follow-up in order to:

  • Monitor and ensure respect for fundamental rights of the Rohingya and other minority groups;

  • Ensure that domestic legislation, notably those on the “protection of race and religion” is in line with international standards;

  • Foster closer cooperation between the UN rights mechanisms and Myanmar; and

  • Promote and establish independent and effective accountability mechanisms at the national level.

Source: Country Briefing on Freedom of Religion or Belief produced by Asia Centre and IPPFoRB

Mohammad Mujeeb