Decision on the sixth item on the agenda: Developments concerning the question of the observance by the Government of Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29) Governing Body conclusions

Record of decisions | 30 March 2012

Decision on the sixth item on the agenda: Developments concerning the question of the observance by the Government of Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

Governing Body conclusions

The Governing Body took note of the report of the Liaison Officer, the statement made by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the subsequent discussion. In the light of the debate, the Governing Body:

(1) Welcomes the important and positive developments in Myanmar since the 312th Session of the Governing Body (November 2011) and in particular the further extension of the Supplementary Understanding (SU) and the adoption of legislation repealing the Village and Towns Acts of 1907, defining forced labour and providing for the criminal prosecution of perpetrators.

(2) Further welcomes the initiative of the Government, including the defence services, in formalizing its commitment to develop a comprehensive, proactive, joint strategy with the ILO for the full elimination of all forms of forced labour by 2015. In so doing, it is emphasized that immediate effective measures are required and that every effort should be made to meet that objective earlier. The intention to maintain ongoing direct cooperation between the defence services and the ILO in this regard is an important part of the process as all sectors of the Government must respect the new legislation.

(3) Whilst recognizing that these represent major steps towards meeting the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, notes that both the strict application of the new law and the prosecution and appropriate punishment of those who may violate it are critical to achieving the objective and as such should be built into the proposed strategy. This new strategy should be accompanied by a high-level public commitment to its implementation and to full compliance with Convention No. 29.

(4) Notes the importance of ensuring that policy coverage and application encompasses the entire territory of Myanmar including border areas in context of achieving sustainable peace agreements.

(5) Notes the information concerning the prosecution of some perpetrators and encourages the Government to maintain a process based on preventative education/awareness, the full application of the law and accountability by way of criminal prosecution of perpetrators as a means for combating impunity.

(6) Welcomes the expansion of awareness-raising activities including the availability of the joint Government/ILO brochure in the Myanmar language and four other national languages and looks forward to further translations and their wide distribution.

(7) Welcomes also the recent release from prison of a further number of labour activists and seeks the immediate unconditional release of all remaining imprisoned labour activists and prisoners of conscience.

(8) Urges the Government to avail itself of the technical assistance of the Office including in further consultation in the drafting of relevant legislation.

(9) Expresses its appreciation for the work of the Office and especially of the Liaison Officer and his small dedicated team and re-emphasizes the need to strengthen and expand the Liaison Office capacities including through the provision of adequate resources, the Government’s expeditious approval of necessary visas on request and the engagement of local focal points for the strengthening and support of community networks.

(10) Strongly encourages the Government and the people of Myanmar to continue their ongoing democratization efforts and emphasizes in that regard the need for full respect of human rights and international standards.

(11) Decides to place on the agenda of the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference (June 2012) an additional item enabling a review of measures previously adopted by the Conference to secure compliance by Myanmar with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.

(12) Finally it requests the Officers of the Governing Body to undertake a mission to Myanmar and to report to the Conference on all relevant issues with a view to assisting its consideration of that review.

(13) The total cost of the above mission, estimated at US$58,000, will be financed in the first instance from savings in Part I of the budget or, failing that, through Part II of the budget.

(Documents GB.313/INS/6, GB.313/INS/6(Add.) and GB.313/INS/6(Add.2).)