"The release of all Burma's political prisoners is one of the fundamental goals of U.S. policy. Several of the laws imposing sanctions on Burma--including the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-61) and the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti- Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-286)--require the release of all political prisoners before the sanctions can be terminated. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (P.L. 113- 76) requires the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to 'support programs for former political prisoners' in Burma, as well as 'monitor the number of political prisoners in Burma.' Burma's President Thein Sein pledged during a July 2013 trip to the United Kingdom to release all the political prisoners in his country by the end of the year. Since his announcement, he has granted amnesties or pardons on seven occasions in an effort to fulfill his promise. While President Thein Sein has asserted that all political prisoners have been freed, several Burmese organizations maintain that dozens of political prisoners remain in jail and that new political prisoners continue to be arrested and sentenced. Hopes for a democratic government and national reconciliation in Burma depend on the release of prisoners associated with the country's ethnic groups. Several ethnic-based political parties have stated they will not participate in parliamentary elections until their members are released. Also, prospects for stable ceasefires and lasting peace with various ethnic-based militias may require the release of their members currently in detention."
CRS Report for Congress, R42363