Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lawyers, activists press for Justice Ministry

Lawyers and former political prisoners call on the National League for Democracy to form a Ministry of Justice, with president-elect U Htin Kyaw to submit his list of ministries to the Union Parliament today.

No such ministry currently exists and, according to section 299(c) of the constitution, the president appoints the Union chief justice as the highest judicial authority.

“The government needs to hold an election for the position of Chief Justice of the Union. If not, the judiciary system won’t be free. I mean that, if someone wants to sue the president, the judge shouldn’t be biased,” said U Khin Maung Than, vice chair of the Independent Lawyers Association of Myanmar (ILAM).

He said the previous government used Union-level judges to protect itself, with most cases brought before the Supreme Court going in favour of the government.

“We will discuss with new parliament members and also the government to amend the laws. We will prepare a bill with amendments and also hold a meeting for preliminary discussion of the bill. When the laws have been amended, the judiciary system will be strong,” said U Khin Maung Than.

A former political prisoners group has joined the call for judicial reform, saying that judges should be able to make decisions free of pressure from the authorities.

U Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), told The Myanmar Times that he believed a Ministry of Justice should be formed to oversee the judicial reform process.

“We want to see our judiciary separate from the administration. I think that the judges have been influenced for a very long time by the authorities and a civilian government needs to change this system,” he said.

Prominent human rights advocate U Robert San Aung said yesterday that the Ministry of Justice must be formed urgently because currently no one is responsible for the judiciary system.

“The NLD must form this new ministry. Then the image of the country’s judiciary system will improve,” he said.