UPDATE (Burma): Update on child jailed for witnessing massacre


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-10-2004
ISSUES: Child rights,

Dear Friends

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learnt that in addition to the persons listed for the Urgent Appeal sent yesterday, 23 February 2004, to secure the release of Maung Chan Thar Kyaw, it is also necessary to write to the Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. (To see our previous urgent appeal regarding this case, please visit: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2004/623/) A further sample letter and the minister’s details follow. Please write to the minister to call for the release of this young man from illegal detention. AHRC also informs you a correct contact information of Attorney General Office of Myanma below, as our previous urgent appeal included incorrect fax number. 

Dr. Tun Shin 
Director General 
Office of the Attorney General
101 Pansodan Street 
Kyauktada Township
Fax: + 95 1 371 028 

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Major-General Sein Htwa
Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
53 Strand Road

Fax: +951 650 002

E-mail: social-wel-myan@mptmail.net.mm

Dear Minister

Re: Case of Maung Chan Thar Kyaw (Case No. 4518/2003)

I am deeply concerned by reports that the Monywa Township Court has sentenced a minor to a juvenile training camp in violation of the provisions of the Child Law (1993, amended 2001). The child concerned, Maung Chan Thar Kyaw, was a 15-year-old high school student at time of sentencing on 7 July 2003, and was ordered to go into the custody of the Chan Awsan Training School, Yangon Division, until 4 October 2005, when he will become an adult. 

The procedure and sentencing of the Monywa Township Court violate many provisions of the Child Law, of which the presiding judge appears to be almost entirely ignorant. In particular, the following provisions were violated.

1. Under section 41(c) the accused should have been released into the custody of his parents or other suitable persons during the trial, but he was kept under detention. Additionally, he was charged under section 333/114 of the Penal Code, which applies only to non-bailable offences, and therefore should not have applied in this case. 

2. Under section 42(c) the accused should have had legal counsel unless his parents waived this right, however in this case the accused was given no assistance by the court, and nor were his parents permitted to assist him. He appeared before the court alone. 

3. As the accused lacked legal counsel, no witnesses were called on his behalf, although it is within the powers of the judge to take steps to do so, in order to ensure fair trial. 

4. The accused was committed to the custody of the training school under section 47(d) of the Child Law, however this provision is a last resort for children without parents or guardians, or who are otherwise of such bad character that no alternative exists. A number of lesser sanctions are outlined in section 47 (a)(b)(c), however the judge sentenced the accused without due consideration of these and without consulting with the child’s parents or others appearing on his behalf. 

Clearly, the proceedings of this trial violated not only national law, but also the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Myanmar acceded to in 1991, and in relation to which the Child Law was subsequently enacted. It is not enough to enact a law and expect that it will bring the country into compliance with international law. The provisions of the law must be applied. In the case of Maung Chan Thar Kyaw they most certainly have not.

Under Section 59(a) of the Child Law, as Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, you have the power to release children from detention. I therefore urge you to exercise your power to release Maung Chan Thar Kyaw and clear his record without delay. I also urge you to ensure that the Child Law is correctly applied and cases such as this do not continue to occur in Myanmar. 

Yours sincerely


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-10-2004
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Child rights,