Le­gal body calls for con­sti­tu­tional change

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

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

and Emoon

Photo: Pyae Thet Phyo

Ad­vo­cate U Maung Maung Soe speaks dur­ing a hlut­taw dis­cus­sion in Nay Pyi Taw on Novem­ber 27.

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