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ILO: Burma's Offer Inadequate to Monitor Labor Practices - 2002-02-27

Burma says it is willing to allow the International Labor Organization to base a liaison officer in Rangoon. The ILO says the offer is inadequate.

An ILO officer says Rangoon's offer is a step forward, but not enough to allow the organization to adequately monitor Burma's labor practices.

Burma's military government made the offer to allow a liaison officer during a recent visit by an ILO team.

Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win told reporters Wednesday the government hopes the ILO accepts the offer. He says a liaison could be upgraded, if relations with the ILO improved.

However, ILO officials say they want to open a full office in Burma. They say such an office is needed to be able to investigate labor complaints and monitor Burma's efforts to improve labor rights.

ILO officials say the governing body is unlikely to post a liaison officer in Rangoon.

Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, has long had a record of using forced labor. The government has banned the practice, but, according to an ILO report last year, it still goes on.

In addition to opening a full ILO office in Burma, the ILO wants Rangoon to create an ombudsman position, to deal with labor problems.

Burma's military government would like to draw more foreign investment into the impoverished country. However, many Western countries have only limited contact with Rangoon because of what they view as the country's repressive government.