Burma has a quasi-parliamentary system of government in which national parliament selects the president and constitutional provisions grant one-quarter of national, regional, and state parliamentary seats to active-duty military appointees. The military also has the authority to appoint the ministers of defense, home affairs, and border affairs and indefinitely assume power over all branches of the government should the president declare a national state of emergency. On November 8, the country held nationwide parliamentary elections that the public widely accepted as a credible reflection of the will of the people, despite some structural flaws. Civilian authorities did not maintain effective control over the security forces.
During 2015, the three leading human rights problems in the country were restrictions on freedoms of speech, association, and assembly; human rights violations in ethnic minority areas affected by conflict; and restrictions on members of the Rohingya population. Arrests of students, land rights activists, and individuals in connection with the exercise of free speech and assembly continued throughout the year, and the excessive sentencing of many of these individuals after prolonged trial diminished trust in the judicial system. The government did little to address the root causes of human rights abuses, statelessness, violence, and discrimination against Rohingya. The government disenfranchised many Rohingya who voted in previous elections and rejected almost all Rohingya and many Muslim candidates from contesting in the November 8 elections.
Other significant human rights problems persisted, including rape and sexual violence, forced labor, politically motivated arrests, excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators, widespread corruption, land-related conflict, and intimidation and occasional arrests of journalists. Authorities failed to protect civilians in conflict zones from killing, gross abuses, and displacement. Trafficking in persons, including forced labor of adults and children, continued. Although the government took some limited actions to prosecute or punish officials responsible for abuses, abuses by government actors and security officials generally continued with impunity.