Union leg­is­la­ture to tackle protest law dif­fer­ences

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­times.com

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

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