03 October 2008

UN calls for the release of Myanmar's political prisoners (AFP)

GENEVA (AFP) — The new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for the release of Myanmar's political prisoners Thursday as she launched a 'justice and dignity' week for detainees around the world.

"We believe that there are still 2,000 political prisoners in Myanmar," said Pilaly in her first press conference since taking office.

"We are asking the authorities in Rangoon to free them," she added.

Last week, she welcomed the release of seven political prisoners there.

The High Commissioner also called the detention of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi "completely illegal, even in respect of the country's law."

Pillay also highlighted the plight of detainees in other countries.

"The number of people around the world who are believed to be held in some form of detention that is unjust or inappropriate probably runs into the millions," said Pillay.

"Every day around the world, there are hundreds of new cases of men, women and children being placed in detention, when they shouldn't be, sometimes in atrocious conditions," she added.

The South African lawyer, who has served as a judge with the International Criminal Court and as Judge President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, became UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in September.

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