BURMA: Human rights lawyer gets licence back

(Hong Kong, July 19, 2012) A lawyer who had lost his licence for political reasons among 32 on whose behalf the Asian Human Rights Commission has been campaigning since last year has been informed that he can now again practice law. 

In a letter dated July 9, the Supreme Court informed U Robert Sann Aung that it had decided to allow him to practice again, after almost 20 years of disbarment. The AHRC has received a copy of the letter. 

Wong Kai Shing, the Hong Kong-based regional group’s director, said that the return of the lawyer’s licence was a good sign. He hoped that all of the lawyers whose licences had been disbarred for similar reasons would soon have them returned. 

“These lawyers should not have had their licences revoked in the first place, since they were doing nothing other than defending clients in accordance with the law, or expressing their political opinions as is their right,” Wong said. 

“We have heard that some lawyers are advised that they ought to ask for the sympathy of the administration to get their licenses back. In fact, the matter of these licences being returned is one of lawful rights and no reason exists that any of them should have a request refused, however it is expressed,” he said. 

Wong also called for further unilateral revocations of licences to cease, and for no more lawyers to be investigated simply for representing the interests of their clients according to law. 

“And we take this opportunity to wish Robert Sann Aung well for his return to professional practice,” Wong added. 

Robert Sann Aung had his licence revoked in 1993 after defending clients in political cases. According to him, a military intelligence officer conveyed the letter revoking his licence. Since 1974, he has also been imprisoned a total of six times for political reasons. 

Despite the revocation of his licence, Robert Sann Aung has in the interim continued to work on a wide range of human rights cases, including those concerning child soldiers, forced labour, illegal detention and unlawful confiscation of land. 

The AHRC has established a webpage in support of the lawyers who have lost their licences: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma/disbarred-lawyers/ 

The webpage contains letters of appeal and brief details of the professionals who have lost their licences and the reasons that the licences were revoked. It also contains letters of support from professional groups around the world. 

Copies of letters of support sent can be forwarded to the Burma Desk of the AHRC, which with permission of the author will post them on the campaign webpage. 

Please send any such copies to: burma@ahrc.asia.

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-026-2012
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Campaigns : Disbarred Lawyers