Burma releases journalist after petition to UN Working Group

18 Jan 2012 | by Caroline Sweeney

The Government of Myanmar (Burma) is understood to have confirmed the release of 28-year-old TV journalist Hla Hla Win, who had been detained since September 2009.  She had been sentenced to a total of 27 years’ imprisonment, having been arrested whilst on a journalistic assignment for a Norway-based media organisation.  The offences she was alleged to have committed involved unlawfully accessing the internet and allowing herself to be carried as a passenger on an illegally imported motorcycle.  Her news organisation has always maintained that the real reason for her detention was to suppress her journalistic reporting of politically sensitive issues.

In November 2011 a petition was filed with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention seeking a formal opinion as to the arbitrariness of her detention.  The Government of Myanmar’s decision to release Miss Win comes before the date by which it had to file its defence to the petition.  Miss Win was amongst a number of political prisoners released to coincide with the recent visit of UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Monckton barrister Alan Bates, who was instructed by the Burma Justice Committee in relation to the filing of the petition, commented:

“It is brilliant news that this courageous young woman has been released following international pressure from multiple sources, though of course many other journalists and political activists continue to be detained. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is just one of a number of international legal mechanisms available for drawing attention to individual cases in which human rights treaty obligations are alleged to have been breached.”