Prisons are a direct reflection of a country’s administrative, legislative and
Hidden from public view, facing stigmatization and afforded little public
sympathy, prisoners face a greater risk of having their human rights
abused2. These issues are compounded even further in light of rising prison
populations around the world and the prevalence of prison overcrowding.
Reducing prison overcrowding, is an essential first step in reforming the
criminal justice system in Burma where prisons have a notorious history of
human rights abuses and impunity.
Presidential amnesties, as have occurred in Burma and the construction
of more prisons, as is proposed, are short term and costly solutions to
much more systemic issues, that contribute to prison overcrowding. If laws
and prison conditions remain unchanged, these measures will not have
a lasting impact on improving human rights in prisons. Systemic reform,
addressing issues related to broader issues of social justice, disproportionate
punishments, and the lack of an adequate separation of powers in Burma will
ensure sustainable and long-term solutions to prison overcrowding can be
implemented, reducing the high social and financial costs of incarceration.
This will improve prospects for development, the advancement of human
rights and social justice for all of Burma3.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) urges the
Government of Myanmar to seize this opportunity to demonstrate their
commitment to ending human rights abuses across Burma by actively
engaging in prison reform, starting with the most pressing issue of prison