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UN Human Rights Envoy Starts Burma Mission - 2003-03-23


The United Nations human rights envoy to Burma has begun a week-long mission there to assess the military-ruled country's human rights situation.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is making his fifth visit to Burma. UN officials say he will use the week-long visit to examine such issues as political prisoners, the state of the country's justice system, and the development of political and civil freedoms.

Mr. Pinheiro says he is there to update a previous report for presentation to the UN Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva.

Burma's pro-democracy opposition has criticized Mr. Pinheiro's trip, saying the envoy overstepped his role by urging the international community to engage and not isolate Burma's military government.

An opposition spokesman Thursday said Mr. Pinheiro has a credibility problem among human rights activists because of his alleged charitable comments about the military government.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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