Myanmar suspends rights protections and rolls out "Safe City" camera surveillance system


In December 2020 Myanmar authorities began rolling out its $1.2 million "Safe City" system of 335 Huawei AI-equipped surveillance cameras in eight townships in the capital, Naypyidaw. The system, whose purpose was originally presented by the Myanmar government as fighting crime, automatically scans faces and vehicle licence plates in public places and alerts authorities to the presence of those on a wanted list. The Safe City plan calls for installing similar systems in Mandalay by mid-2021 and then in the commercial capital, Yangon. Huawei claims it supplies "standard IT infrastructure equipment" and that it did not supply the recognition technology inside the cameras. In February 2021, after executing a coup, the military junta suspended parts of the law granting basic rights such as the right to be free from arbitrary detention and the right to be free of warrantless surveillance, search, and seizure.

Writer: HRW

Publication: Human Rights Watch