Legal body calls for constitutional change
IN order to bolster the rule of law and improve ethnic minority rights, the Myanmar Lawyers Network (MLN) has called for the country’s 2008 constitution to be redrafted.
“The 2008 constitution is the main impediment to the rule of law in this country. A new constitution should be drawn up to repair this fault,” said U Maung Maung Soe, a representative of the MLN.
The MLN believes that the law should be redrafted to make better provisions for ethnic groups in light of the country’s ongoing peace process, U Maung Maung Soe said.
The lack of civilian control over the Department of Home Affairs was raised by MLN secretary U Thein Than Oo as a key pitfall of the current constitution.
“The main issue regarding the rule of law under the current constitution is that the Ministry of Home Affairs is not under the control of the democratically elected government ... Many problems can be traced back to this fact,” he said.
“The 2008 constitution deviates from the notion of democracy and does not represent the people. It must be redrawn,” he added.
Myanmar’s junta-drafted constitution grants the Tatmadaw chief the power to control three key ministries: defence, home affairs and border affairs.
Constitutional change was a mainstay of the National League for Democracy’s platform, but redrafting the charter requires the backing of more than 75 percent of the hluttaw. With the Tatmadaw representatives guaranteed at 25pc bloc, they are essentially in possession of veto power.
“The entire constitution must be drawn anew. The people ought to know that it exists, that it is there to protect them. However, the Tatmadaw’s approval will be required for any amendment and so their involvement in the amendment process is necessary,” said U Aung Thein, a member of the MLN’s Amyotha Hluttaw bill committee.
Along with this constitutional change, the MLN said that much work needs to be done to update Myanmar’s legal framework, which retains many colonial-era laws.
With the help of Czech organisation the CELE Institute, the MLN has been working with the hluttaw on smoothing the steps necessary for a bill to become law. They have also helped the parliament to identify areas of the country’s current legal framework which require modernisation. – Translation by Khine Thazin Han
Advocate U Maung Maung Soe speaks during a hluttaw discussion in Nay Pyi Taw on November 27.