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Home > Main Library > Human Rights > Detentions, Trials, Independence of the Judiciary > Burma/Myanmar laws which have been used in political cases and are in need of amendment (commentary)

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Burma/Myanmar laws which have been used in political cases and are in need of amendment (commentary)

Individual Documents

Title: "They Can Arrest You at Any Time" - The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Burma
Date of publication: 29 June 2016
Description/subject: Summary: "While the country is more open than before, the people’s rights are being neglected. They can arrest you at any time under these laws. There is no guarantee. –Pang Long, attorney, Rangoon, January 2016 The past five years have been a time of liberalization and change in Burma. The abolition of prior censorship and a loosening of licensing requirements has led to a vibrant press, and the shift from formal military rule has emboldened civil society. The change has not been without conflict, however, and, under President Thein Sein, those who embraced the new freedoms to vocally criticize the government or military too often found themselves arrested and in prison. The backlash against critics was facilitated by a range of overly broad and vaguely worded laws that violate internationally protected rights to expression and peaceful assembly, some dating from the British colonial era, some enacted under successive military juntas, and others the products of reform efforts, or ostensible reform efforts, by the Thein Sein government. This report examines how Burmese governments have used and abused these laws and the ways in which the laws themselves fall far short of international standards. It sets forth a series of concrete recommendations to the new Burmese government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), aimed at dismantling the inherited legal infrastructure of repression..."
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch
Format/size: pdf (863K-full report, reduced version; 1MB-full report, original)
Alternate URLs: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/burma0616_chartsweb.pdf (tables)
https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/burma0616burm_summandrecsweb.pdf (summary, recommendations, and legal standards in Burmese)
Date of entry/update: 29 June 2016


Title: Open letter on amending the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act
Date of publication: 12 May 2016
Description/subject: "In this open letter Amnesty International welcomes efforts by Myanmar Parliament to review the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act but expresses concern that proposed amendments fall far short of bringing the Act into line with international human rights law and standards."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Amnesty International (ASA 16/4024/2016)
Format/size: pdf (222K)
Date of entry/update: 13 May 2016


Title: HRW Letter to President U Htin Kyaw Re: Human Rights Priorities for the New Government (English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 04 May 2016
Description/subject: "Human Rights Priorities for the New Myanmar Government: 1. Release All Political Prisoners ...2. Reform Laws that Violate Basic Rights: *Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act, Article 4; *Penal Code, Section 124(a) (sedition); *Telecommunications Act, section 66(d); *News Media Law, Section 9; *Electronic Transactions Act, Section 33; *Contempt of Courts Act; *Official Secrets Act 1923, Section 3; *Printing and Publishing Enterprise Law, Article 8; *Emergency Provisions Act 1950, and the *State Protection Act 1975; *Unlawful Associations Act 1908. ...3. Protect and Facilitate the Work of Civil Society Organizations...4. Reform National Human Rights Commission...5. Invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to Open an Office with a Full Mandate and Adequate Staff...6. Protect and Promote Women’s Rights...7. Protect and Promote Land Rights...8. Protect and Promote the Right to Health...9. End Persecution of Rohingya and Other Muslims...10. Amend Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law...11. Press the Military to End Human Rights Violations in Conflict Areas...12. End All Recruitment and Use of Children as Soldiers...13. Accountability for Past and Ongoing Abuses...14. Constitutional Reform: *Section 6(f); *Section 20; *Section 59(f);*Section 232(b) [ii, ii]; *Chapter 7; *Chapter 8; *Section 436."
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: https://www.hrw.org/my/news/2016/05/04/289581 (Burmese)
Date of entry/update: 05 May 2016


Title: BURMA/MYANMAR: SIGNIFICANT REFORMS NEEDED BEFORE HUMAN RIGHTS DUE DILIGENCE POSSIBLE
Date of publication: April 2016
Description/subject: "Burma/Myanmar has a legacy of human rights violations linked to foreign investment and land acquisition for business activities , including large - scale development projects. A flawed and outdated legal framework, poor policy cohe rence , weak governance , rule of law deficiencies , and an exploitative and predatory approach to controlling natural resources have fuelled human rights violations and armed conflict. Despite a new government, ongoing m ilitary control and/or influence over key ministries remains a barrier to land reform . T he l egal framework for land acquisition violates international standards. Institutionalized impunity and discrimination, a lack of transparency, and corrupt and unregulated industries present a significant risk to local residents, as well as local and foreign investors. As foreign direct investment increases in Burma , it is crucial that the new National League for Democracy ( NLD ) - led government tackles land acquisition as a priority policy issue . T he current legal and policy framework must be significantly reformed to ensure transparent investment practices and that human rights are respected by businesse s operating in the country . Such measures should be conflict - sensitive, clearly address the impact of past abuses and provide concrete means to protect human rights.....includes a box on "Laws that Support Land Confiscation" .
Language: English
Source/publisher: ALTSEAN-Burma
Format/size: pdf (245K-reduced version; 317K-original). Word (57K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.altsean.org/Docs/PDF%20Format/Thematic%20Briefers/BHR%20Factsheet%20April%202016.pdf
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs22/2016-04-BHRFactsheet.docx
Date of entry/update: 15 May 2016


Title: Myanmar: New expression meets old repression: Ending the cycle of political arrests and imprisonment in Myanmar
Date of publication: 24 March 2016
Description/subject: "Since it came to power in March 2011, the government in Myanmar has embarked on a major transition from five decades of authoritarian military rule towards a more open political system. However, despite these reforms, activists continue to face arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for their peaceful activities. This report highlights the pattern of politically motivated arrest and imprisonment since the start of 2014. It offers concrete recommendations to the new government to respect the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and to put an end to the repressive practices which fuel arbitrary arrests and imprisonment."
Language: English and Burmese
Source/publisher: Amnesty International
Format/size: pdf (890K-English; 1.2MB-Burmese)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/2016-Amnesty-International-New_expression_meets_old_repression-e...
Date of entry/update: 25 March 2016


Title: UN Human Rights Council, 31st Session: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee (English)
Date of publication: 18 March 2016
Description/subject: The Annex contains an important list of "SELECTED LEGISLATION IN NEED OF REFORM IN MYANMAR"..... Introduction: "1. The present report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 28/23, covers human rights developments in Myanmar since the reports of the Special Rapporteur to the Council in March 2015 (A/HRC/28/72) and to the General Assembly in October 2015 (A/70/412). Building on these and other past reports, it identifies key priority areas for the new Government in order to address prevailing human rig hts concerns. 2. Four years of wide-ranging reforms have brought fundamental changes to Myanmar. Thousands of political prisoners were released, num erous laws were adopted or reformed, and significant steps were taken towards greater media freedom and government transparency. The general elections on November 2015 were positively assessed by national and international observers (despite some irregularities and pre-election concerns) and saw the National League for Democracy (NLD) win an absolute majority. 3. The new Government will now face formidable human rights challenges. The transition period following the elections has been smooth and peaceful but also one of great uncertainty. Allegations of human rights violations continue to be reported, including arrests and prosecutions of civil society actors for peaceful a nd democratic activities. At this important juncture, the new Government should not only furthe r the reforms initiated by outgoing President Thein Sein but also create an environment in which communities, civil society actors and human rights defenders can speak out and peacef ully protest without fear of reprisal. The international community should remain engaged and s upport Myanmar in furthering reforms and in fulfilling its international human rights obligations...".....This version, the Advance Edited Version of 18 March 2016, updates the Advance Unedited Version dated 8 March 2016.
Author/creator: Yanghee Lee
Language: English
Source/publisher: UN Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/71) - Advance Edited Version
Format/size: pdf (272K)
Date of entry/update: 13 May 2016


Title: Myanmar: Briefing Paper on Criminal Defamation Laws (English)
Date of publication: 26 November 2015
Description/subject: "Myanmar’s Parliament must abolish or extensively amend its criminal defamation laws to ensure the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today. Criminal defamation laws in Myanmar impose harsh sanctions, such as imprisonment, to punish free expression. The prospect of arrests, detentions, criminal trials and prison time could chill the exercise of free expression of opinions and exchange of information. The ICJ, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (which monitors and supervises States’ compliance with their international human rights obligations), the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and other international human rights authorities and an increasing number of governments consider that criminal defamation laws should be abolished, as they are incompatible with the right to freedom of expression and opinion. Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution provides for the protection of freedom of expression,1 but sets out broad and ambiguous restrictions that limit the enjoyment of these rights. In addition, the judiciary of Myanmar currently struggles to adjudicate such criminal defamation cases with impartiality and competence.2 The result is that enforcement of the defamation laws can result in violations of a number of international laws and standards protecting human rights, and also could have an overall chilling effect on the freedom of opinion and expression in the country. Just last month, three people faced criminal defamation charges and were detained pending trial for posting material on Facebook that allegedly defame either the Myanmar army or a political leader. • Kachin activist Patrick Kum Jaa Lee was arrested in Yangon for allegedly posting a Facebook post showing someone stepping on a photo of an army Commander-in-Chief Senior General; 1 Article 354, 2008 Constitution of Myanmar, limits the freedom of expression to the extent that it is “not contrary to the laws, enacted for the Union security, prevalence of law and order, community peace and tranquility or public order and morality.” http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs09/Myanmar_Constitution-2008(en&bu)-red.pdf 2 International Commission of Jurists, The Right to Counsel: Independence of Lawyers in Myanmar: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs16/ICJ-MYANMAR-Right-to-Counselen- red.pdf 2 • Chaw Sandi Tun was arrested for a Facebook post pointing out that an army official was wearing clothes of a similar colour to those of then opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi; and • Maung Saungkha was arrested for allegedly posting a poem on Facebook he had written about having a tattoo of the President on his penis. His next hearing at Shwepyithar Township has been scheduled for tomorrow. The ICJ is monitoring some of these trials to assess their compliance with international laws and standards. In one such trial, involving Patrick Kum Jaa Lee, the accused has been denied bail for the fifth time this week despite his ailing health. The laws used to charge and detain the accused are the Electronic Transaction Law, specifically under provision 34(d), the Myanmar Telecommunications Law, specifically under provision 66(d), and Article 500 of the Penal Code. Each of these laws is detailed below..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
Format/size: pdf (77K)
Date of entry/update: 31 March 2016


Title: Myanmar: Briefing Paper on Criminal Defamation Laws - Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 26 November 2015
Description/subject: "Myanmar’s Parliament must abolish or extensively amend its criminal defamation laws to ensure the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today. Criminal defamation laws in Myanmar impose harsh sanctions, such as imprisonment, to punish free expression. The prospect of arrests, detentions, criminal trials and prison time could chill the exercise of free expression of opinions and exchange of information. The ICJ, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (which monitors and supervises States’ compliance with their international human rights obligations), the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and other international human rights authorities and an increasing number of governments consider that criminal defamation laws should be abolished, as they are incompatible with the right to freedom of expression and opinion. Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution provides for the protection of freedom of expression,1 but sets out broad and ambiguous restrictions that limit the enjoyment of these rights. In addition, the judiciary of Myanmar currently struggles to adjudicate such criminal defamation cases with impartiality and competence.2 The result is that enforcement of the defamation laws can result in violations of a number of international laws and standards protecting human rights, and also could have an overall chilling effect on the freedom of opinion and expression in the country. Just last month, three people faced criminal defamation charges and were detained pending trial for posting material on Facebook that allegedly defame either the Myanmar army or a political leader. • Kachin activist Patrick Kum Jaa Lee was arrested in Yangon for allegedly posting a Facebook post showing someone stepping on a photo of an army Commander-in-Chief Senior General; 1 Article 354, 2008 Constitution of Myanmar, limits the freedom of expression to the extent that it is “not contrary to the laws, enacted for the Union security, prevalence of law and order, community peace and tranquility or public order and morality.” http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs09/Myanmar_Constitution-2008(en&bu)-red.pdf 2 International Commission of Jurists, The Right to Counsel: Independence of Lawyers in Myanmar: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs16/ICJ-MYANMAR-Right-to-Counselen- red.pdf 2 • Chaw Sandi Tun was arrested for a Facebook post pointing out that an army official was wearing clothes of a similar colour to those of then opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi; and • Maung Saungkha was arrested for allegedly posting a poem on Facebook he had written about having a tattoo of the President on his penis. His next hearing at Shwepyithar Township has been scheduled for tomorrow. The ICJ is monitoring some of these trials to assess their compliance with international laws and standards. In one such trial, involving Patrick Kum Jaa Lee, the accused has been denied bail for the fifth time this week despite his ailing health. The laws used to charge and detain the accused are the Electronic Transaction Law, specifically under provision 34(d), the Myanmar Telecommunications Law, specifically under provision 66(d), and Article 500 of the Penal Code. Each of these laws is detailed below..."
Language: Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
Format/size: pdf (103K)
Date of entry/update: 31 March 2016


Title: The use of section 18 to continue human rights abuses in Burma
Date of publication: 04 October 2013
Description/subject: "Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembley and Peaceful Procession Law is being frequently utilized to arrest and imprison political activists for undertaking human rights activism in Burma. AAPP (B) wishes to highlight the ongoing human rights abuses section 18 permits and to make the international community aware of the dangers this poses to the political freedom in Burma..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)
Format/size: pdf (360K)
Date of entry/update: 04 October 2013


Title: Where are Burma’s lawyers in the transition?
Date of publication: 18 July 2012
Description/subject: N.B. this article is from 2012....."...NOTES: [1] RULE OF LAW PRINCIPLES (twelve) 1. There must be laws prohibiting and protecting against private violence and coercion, general lawlessness and anarchy. 2. The government must be bound (as far as possible) by the same laws that bind individuals. 3. The law must possess characteristics of certainty, generality and equality. Certainty requires that the law be prospective, open, clear and relatively stable. Laws must be of general application to all subjects. The must apply equally to all. 4. The law must be and remain reasonably in accordance with informed public opinion and general social values and there must be some mechanism (formal and informal) for ensuring that. 5. There must be institutions and procedures that are capable of expeditiously enforcing the law. 6. There must be effective procedures and institutions to ensure that government action is also in accordance with the law. 7. There must be an independent judiciary, so that it may be relied upon to apply the law. 8. A system of legal representation is required, preferably by an organized and independent legal profession. 9. The principles of “natural justice” (or procedural fairness) must be observed in all hearings. 10. The courts must be accessible, without long delays and high costs 11. Enforcement of the law must be impartial and honest. 12. There must be an enlightened public opinion— a public spirit or attitude favoring the application of these propositions. (This proposition has echoes of point number four in it. In addition, it is a requirement that the community be kept informed of the state of the law, social changes and trends requiring amendments to the law (or to the way in which it is enforced), and the need to proceed in a principled way at all times in the general public interest. The media inevitably play a large part in the fulfillment of this requirement – so freedom of the press, of information and of communications is vital.) [See the Southern Law Review Special Issue Restoring the Rule of Law in Volume 4 December 2000 Lismore NSW]..."
Author/creator: Janelle Saffin
Language: English
Source/publisher: "New Mandala"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 16 April 2016