MYANMAR: Addressing torture, corruption and justice delivery must be a priority for the UN

An Oral Statement to the 13th Session of the Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organization with general consultative status

MYANMAR: Addressing torture, corruption and justice delivery must be a priority for the UN

video from UN webcast archive

Thank you, 

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) welcomes the conclusions in the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar’s report. 

As you point out, the current system of administration of justice is seriously flawed. The ALRC has submitted a written statement highlighting the role that corruption plays in undermining justice in Myanmar, and hopes that you will study this problem in depth in your future work, as it has received little attention to date. Virtually every case that the ALRC has studied in recent years illustrates the effect of corruption and procedural failures on the administration of justice. Charges are argued even though patently in violation of the law. Judges take up cases involving minors that should be handled by juvenile courts. Sometimes judges are paid to falsify records so that minors appear as adults. This has been a special problem in the delta region since Cyclone Nargis, as many survivors lost all their documents and proof of age is difficult. 

The ALRC has also submitted a statement on torture in Myanmar, where, although the Evidence Act and other parts of law prohibit the use of confessions obtained during police interrogation, the current Supreme Court of Myanmar has enabled their use and has thereby encouraged the practice of torture. Courts at all levels routinely accept as evidence confessions that have been obtained through the use of torture, and torture is now more widespread than at any time in recent decades. 

The ALRC therefore urges you and the Council to make the issue torture a priority concerning Myanmar and to insist that the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar be amended to prohibit torture; that the country accede to the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol; that a law to prohibit torture be introduced and that international agencies be invited to assist in the setting up of special units for the investigation and prosecution of acts of torture. 

Additionally, we would like to know if you received any response from the authorities concerning your request for them to re-engage with the ICRC in order for it to conduct prison visits? Also, do you have any further information concerning the deletion of 50 laws that the Attorney General has claimed are not in line with the Constitution? 

Finally, the ALRC applauds the call by the Special Rapporteur for the establishment of a commission of inquiry, and insists that it include the issues of torture, corruption and the mis-administration of justice. 

Thank you.

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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.