Surprise checks should be carried out to assess the real state of the legal system, a committee headed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi recommended in an interim report last week.
The Rule of Law, Stability and Peace Committee said the checks were needed to ascertain whether members of the judiciary were able to make decisions independently.
The interim report, dated Wednesday, November 21 and submitted to the Pyithu Hluttaw on Friday, November 23, included the committee’s actions, analysis and suggestions. While it is satisfied so far with its actions, the committee explained that courts had been informed before committee members conducted an inspection so it was difficult to make a proper assessment.
The head of the committee, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, said members surveyed courts in Yangon, including the High Court, on September 25, 26 and 27 and had not been allowed or able to meet all complainants and witnesses. They also checked township and region courts in Chan Aye Thar Zan township in Mandalay Region and based on these experiences believe courts should be checked without forewarning.
The committee, which has received more than 2000 complaints, appeals and submissions, has also met many stakeholders to solicit feedback and recommendations. In November, the committee arranged a conference with judges from all states and regions in early November that was also attended by Thura U Aung Ko, head of Pyithu Hluttaw Judiciary and Legal Committee.
The Rule of Law, Stability and Peace Committee also met professors and lecturers from the Law Department to discuss how to raise awareness about law, improve teaching standards and improve the curriculum.
The committee detailed the weaknesses of the legal system and these were read out in the hluttaw.
It defined 19 main points, including the use of brokers in the court, the influencing of judges, lawyers, litigants and legal staff in the court of law, fear of speaking openly, the use of confessions extracted through torture, judges’ fear of administrative officials, attempts by administrative officials to influence judges, and problems related to bribery.
The committee suggested that laws need to be updated and judges need to be empowered to make their own decisions “bravely”. The courts should become a place where people are protected by law, the report said, while a major priority should be the eradication of bribery.
The report was seconded by U Zaw Tun, the Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Momeik, and was approved unanimously.
Translated by Thiri Min Htun