MYANMAR: Appeal to review cases of 32 lawyers disbarred for political reasons

An Open Letter to the Chief Justice of Myanmar (Burma)

U Tun Tun Oo
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24

Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
Fax: + 95 67 404 059

Dear Chief Justice

MYANMAR: Appeal to review cases of 32 lawyers disbarred for political reasons

The Asian Legal Resource Centre is writing to you further to a letter submitted to the president dated 4 November 2011 by 16 lawyers who were disbarred because of alleged political crimes or politically related violations of their codes of practice.

According to the 16 lawyers, they had their licences revoked unfairly and unlawfully, inasmuch as the revocations were not done in accordance with correct procedure and were motivated not in response to breaches of professional codes of conduct but because of dissatisfaction of the authorities with their political activities, or efforts to defend the rights of persons accused in political cases.

These 16 lawyers constitute half of a total of 32 lawyers of which the ALRC is aware who have had their licences to practice revoked for political reasons. They include 25 advocates licenced to appear before the Supreme Court, including three women advocates; and, seven Higher Grade Pleaders, licenced to appear before lower courts, including one female pleader. A list of the 32 lawyers follows, and we will send separately for your attention a full list with details on each of the lawyers’ cases and the reasons for which they were disbarred. We believe that there will be other lawyers aside from these 32 in the same situation of having had their licences revoked for political reasons, many having spent periods in jail.

Each of these 32 did no more than freely represent their political opinions in accordance with the law. A number of them did no more than practice their profession in accordance with the relevant codes of conduct. Most of them did not get any opportunity to represent themselves prior to the removal of their licences, as required under the terms of the Bar Council Act, the Legal Practitioners Act and the Courts Manual, but were simply informed about the revocation of licence via letter.

In light of the unjust circumstances under which the licences of these lawyers were revoked, their shared concern for the upholding of the rule of law through professional practice, and given the changed political circumstances in Myanmar of the last year, we ask that the Supreme Court seek a review of the decisions to revoke the licences of each one of these 32 lawyers, and others in similar circumstances, with a view to restoring them their professional qualifications.

In this regard, we note in the state media of 3 October 2011 the Attorney General of Myanmar, Dr. Tun Shin, did inform the parliament that the Bar Council is authorized to review cases were licences have been revoked and make submissions to the Supreme Court on the same. We urge that in each of the cases of the lawyers listed below, that process now take place in order that they are again able to earn their livelihoods and also contribute towards the development of their country at this vitally important time.

Yours sincerely,

Wong Kai Shing
Asian Legal Resource Centre, Hong Kong

SUPREME COURT ADVOCATES (licence numbers in brackets)

1. U Aye Myint (4377)
2. U Myint Than (2639)
3. U Har Mar Nyunt (1756)
4. U Myint Htay (1827)
5. U Khin Maung Thein (2694)
6. U Thaung Myint
7. Daw Khin San Hlaing (4203)
8. U Kyi Win (1506)
9. U Htay (3860)
10. U Khin Maung Thant (1784)
11. U Thein Than Oo (3695)
12. U Sein Nyo Tun (3978) 
13. U Aung Thein (2703)
14. U Khin Maung Shein (4660)
15. U Robert Sann Aung (2469)
16. U Saw Hlaing (4666)
17. Daw Tin Htwe Mu (1447)
18. U Saw Htun (2791)
19. U Htun Htun Han 
20. Thura U Tin Oo 
21. U San Ni Tin Pe
22. U Aye Myint (Guiding Star) (4821)
23. U Myat Hla (1154)
24. Daw Hla Myint
25. “BBC” U Ne Min (2090)

HIGHER GRADE PLEADERS (licence numbers in brackets)

1. Daw Ohn Kyi (6764)
2. U Aung Kyi Nyunt (3710)
3. U Htun Oo (11942)
4. U Nyi Nyi Htwe (24702)
5. Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min (28261)
6. Ko Phyo Phyu / Yan Naing Aung
7. U Tin Aung Tun (21483)

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : ALRC-OLT-009-2011
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),