UN Sees Improvement on Forced Labor In Burma

A U.N. official says Burma is making gradual progress toward reducing the use of forced labor.

Human rights groups have long complained that citizens are forced to perform manual labor ranging from building roads to carrying military supplies through the jungle.

But Steve Marshall, who represents the International Labor Organization in Burma, said the government has passed laws against the practice and has quietly begun to educate local authorities about the new requirements.

Marshall said there are signs of substantial improvement on the civilian side of the government, although there is no evidence of any improvement on the military side.

He said there are also moves to write new labor laws that would permit the formation of labor unions following elections later this year.