Union legislature to tackle protest law differences
WITH the upper and lower houses unable to reconcile differences over draft amendments to the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, the Amyotha Hluttaw Speaker announced last week that lawmakers would hash out their disagreements in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw.
Eight points of disagreement between the two chambers remain, under sections 4(f), 12, 14(a) and 25, as well as four sub-clauses of Section 10.
The upper house Speaker said the move to debate the contended articles in the Union parliament, announced on September 15, was at the suggestion of lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt (NLD; Magwe 4), a member of the Amyotha Hluttaw Bill Committee.
The MP said the main point of contention was over a clause supported by the Amyotha Hluttaw, which parliamentarians in the lower chamber stripped out, that would make it illegal to incentivise individuals to join a protest.
“The Amyotha Hluttaw approved the clause that [prohibits] any powerful organisations or people from ordering people to protest by giving them money and [prohibiting] people from accepting that money also. The Pyithu Hluttaw abrogated that clause,” he said.
Another difference between the two houses concerns a notification period for would-be protesters who decide to cancel a planned demonstration.
“The Amyotha Hluttaw approved the clause that if the applicant [decides not to] protest for any reason, the applicant must inform [authorities] about the cancellation not later than 24 hours [in advance of the planned protest],” U Aung Kyi Nyunt said. “But the Pyithu Hluttaw abrogated ‘not later than 24 hours’ and replaced it with ‘at your earliest convenience’. The Amyotha Hluttaw wants it as it was originally.”
The Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law was passed in 2011 under the previous quasi-civilian government. Critics of the legislation point to the scores of peaceful protesters who have been imprisoned or fined for violating its provisions since it became law.
It has already undergone one set of amendments, in 2014.
Among other changes agreed by both houses of the current parliament is removal of a provision requiring protesters to obtain permission in advance of their demonstration. The draft legislation has been amended to require only that relevant authorities be informed of an impending demonstration.
– Translation by Win Thaw Tar