Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, on Tuesday welcomed [press release] the release of political prisoners in that country. The Special Rapporteur [official profile] stated that "it was ... touching to see joyful scenes across the country as individuals [were freed] and able to reunite with their families." She maintained that the individuals should never have been imprisoned and that they could now take part in the country's "continuing transformation". Lee called for progress to continue, referring to recommendations made by the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission to amend more than 140 laws. The Special Rapporteur hailed the Thingyan Festival as the beginning of many things to celebrate in Myanmar and welcomed the commitment to release political prisoners and further democratic reforms by State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC Profile].
The democratic reform process has continued in Myanmar since ending a decades-old military rule. The prisoners released [JURIST report] last week were 69 student activists who had been jailed for more than a year without trial. Last month Amnesty International (AI) said [JURIST report] that Myanmar's new government has been presented with a historic opportunity to change course on human rights. Also last month Myanmar released [JURIST report] 46 underage child recruits from the military as part of a UN join action plan. In January the country began [JURIST report] the process of releasing the first set of 102 mostly political prisoners days before a democratic power transfer took place.