RANGOON – A Lower House parliamentarian submitted an emergency proposal to the legislature calling for action to be taken against members of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) for their insufficient handling of a high-profile abuse case against two underage domestic workers.
U Htay Win Aung, representing Rangoon Division’s Daw Pone Township, criticized the MNHRC for recommending that the families of the young victims—aged 16 and 17—accept an informal cash settlement totaling US$4,000 from the accused abusers, instead of pushing for action prescribed by law.
The girls, San Kay Khaing and Tha Zin, originally from Rangoon’s Kawhmu Township—also known as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s constituency—escaped from the household of a prominent tailoring family earlier in September, after five years in domestic servitude.
MP U Htay Win Aung accused the MNHRC members of ignoring existing laws in Burma, despite having worked in law enforcement. U Zaw Win, an ex-military member of the human rights commission, once served as the director general of the corrections department at Burma’s notorious Insein Prison.
“Why did the commission not try to treat this as a case of torture?” he said. “Did [Zaw Win] not know the articles [of the law] when he served in the corrections department?”
“As times change, we need to change the people,” U Htay Win Aung said in reference to the commission members. “That is the reasonable thing for lawmakers to do.”
With National League for Democracy lawmakers voicing support for the proposal, House Speaker U Win Myint gave a nod toward holding a debate session on the issue in Parliament.
On Wednesday, the MNHRC held a press conference at its headquarters in Rangoon, where the commissioners defended their response in the case.
Four members of the family accused of the abuse have been arrested and detained by the Rangoon police. Daw Tin Thuzar was arrested on Tuesday while Ko Tin Min Latt, Ma Su Mon Latt, and Lat U Ko Latt were arrested on Wednesday.
The anti-human trafficking unit of the police force filed charges against the four offenders under Article 24, which states that anyone convicted human trafficking shall be penalized with one to 10 years imprisonment, or up to life imprisonment.
On Thursday, Dr. Win Myat Aye of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement announced the ministry is currently taking care of the two victims. It will act as a plaintiff and file a case under Section 66(d) of Burma’s 1993 Child Law, which states that willful mistreatment of a child can be punished with two years in prison and/or a 10,000-kyat fine.