Police chief addresses compensation and settlement
EMPLOYING an unusual interpretation of the criminal justice system, Myanmar’s head of police said “minor cases” can be negotiated extra-judicially with a settlement for the victim, but more “well-known” criminal cases with nationwide repercussions should see trial.
Police Director General Zaw Win was speaking on October 1 at the 52nd anniversary of Myanmar Police Day, held in the capital.
While he did not name any particular cases, his remarks appeared to be an allusion to public outrage over the financial pittance arranged to settle the long-term abuse of two teenage domestic workers. Investigations have been launched into both the Kyauktada township police for failing to respond to initial complaints of the case, and the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission for negotiating the settlement.
“Cases can be settled,” U Zaw Win said. “The court should decide if the settlement is an amount that is worthy of the offence if the victim decides to settle. But major cases, such as murder, rape, robbery, narcotic drug cases and human trafficking, relate not only to the individual victim but also to the public. So such cases should be executed in line with the law rather than trying to diminish the crime [through settlement].”
Cases of human trafficking are a particular concern, he said, and added that the Myanmar Police Force is now not only taking care to combat cross-border human trafficking cases but is also increasingly alert for domestic human trafficking and monitoring businesses where such cases tend to occur, including the housemaid industry, employment agencies and the fisheries sector.
Vice President U Myint Swe, who also attended the ceremony, said that police need to comply with rules and regulations, as well as codes of moral responsibilities, in order to best protect the public and be free of graft. Police are one of the least trusted institutions in the country, with annual graft rankings – such as watchdog Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index – consistently rating the force as among the world’s most corrupt.
U Myint Swe added that alerting police to cases and criminal activities through social media was an effective way to report complaints.
“With developing technologies, criminals are using new modus operandi to commit crimes, terrors and violence, hence the need for police forces at all levels to sustainably upgrade their abilities,” the vice president was quoted as saying in state media.
The police director general added that new types of cases have been emerging since the burgeoning of the internet and social media in Myanmar. He added that the outpouring online of religiously motivated hate speech and discriminatory propaganda is especially concerning.
– Translation by Thiri Min Htun
Officers were presented awards of honour at the 52nd anniversary of Myanmar Police Day on October 1.