In the wake of an unprecedented public outcry over handling of a child abuse case in Yangon, four members of Myanmar's National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) have resigned, the president's office said on Thursday (6 October).
The government had said in September that it was reviewing the actions of the commission, which was accused by lawyers and activists of failing in its duty. Some members of the panel reportedly brokered a compensation deal in a case where two girls employed at a tailor shop in the commercial capital of Yangon complained that they were held against their will and abused for nearly five years by the shop owner.
The teenage girls were reportedly denied wages too, and photographs taken after they were rescued revealed they had suffered burns. Their arms bore scars from knife wounds, according to a Reuters report.
The office of President Htin Kyaw said it was monitoring the case after a journalist first discovered the abuse and reported it to the human rights commission.
The country's police were also accused of failing to act for some three months after being tipped about the case. The public outrage led to the arrest of six members of the shop owner's family on charges including human trafficking.
The president's office named the resigning human rights panel members as Zaw Win, Nyan Zaw, Than Nwe and Mya Mya. It did not reveal any other details.
Activists and lawyers who have been closely following the case are demanding strict action against the four. "I don't think stepping down is enough. The grievances of the victims are too severe to be compensated merely with the commissioners' resignations," Reuters cited a prominent lawyer, Robert San Aung, as saying. "Effective action should be taken to make an example of them."
The MNHRC is the main organisation in Myanmar to address rights abuses, which is continuing even after the transition from the junta regime to a democratically elected government. The 11-member panel was formed in 2012 and some of its officials reportedly served even during the military rule.