Tuesday, 19 November 2019

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‘Judiciary system’, junta’s arm for abuses: Rights group

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Decades of exploitation by the rulers  has led to Burma’s once assertive and independent judiciary system being reduced into an arm of the bureaucracy, resulting in lack of independence and separate identity of the judiciary from other sectors of the government, a new report said.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), in its Human Rights Day report on Burma, said the country’s judiciary system had been completely destroyed from top to bottom since decades and with no one making the effort to address the problem, the use of the judiciary as an arm of bureaucracy had been taken for granted.

But the problem does not end here, and results in the endemic corruption of the judiciary, and zero public confidence on the work of the court, the AHRC said.

The problem of non-independence and lack of separation of the judiciary began since 1962, when the former military dictator General Ne Win took over power in a coup, the report said.

Burma’s non-independent judiciary is not similar to that of other countries where dictators use the judiciary to suit their agendas or to sideline the court or bypass it, the report said.

“It is a more comprehensive problem of the thorough demolition of the independent judiciary, from top to bottom, over a period of decades, to the extent that the notion of an independent judge upon which international debate is premised no longer exists in Burma at all,” the AHRC said.

The non-independent judiciary in Burma is also intimately connected with non-separation of power across the whole state apparatus, which is controlled by the executive, the report said.

Burma, for the past half a century, has been controlled by dictators, who took total control of the executive, legislature and judiciary, and run the country with ‘decrees’, which are pronounced as laws by the judiciary, the report said.

“Therefore, the problem of non-independence cannot be properly addressed until non-separation of powers is properly addressed,” AHRC said.

In sentencing opposition members and dissidents, Burma’s courts have leveled charges that are irrelevant and bogus and often are not applicable. And defendants often do not have any one representing them, and are sentenced despite lack of witnesses and evidences.

In August, a special court in Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison sentenced pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to three years in prison, on charges of violating her previous detention regulation by allowing a stranger, who sneaked into her house, to stay.

The charge, the trial and sentence of the Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi attracted international attention to the flaws of the Burmese judiciary, which for decades have been unquestioned.

As the judiciary in Burma can be manipulated and misused, it gives rise to endemic corruption in the system, and zero public confidence in the work of the court, the AHRC said.

“When a system can be manipulated and misused to the extent that it is in Burma, it can be used for practically any purpose, in practically any case by practically any government official, big or small,” the report said.

In Burma, people come to the court not because they believe they can get justice but because they are forced to appear, the AHRC said.

Only a few businessmen, who can buy the judges, use the court to settle certain business disputes, but the “ordinary people rarely bring genuine complaints to the courts. This is because there is no perception of the courts as places where someone can find justice,” the report said.

The report further said problems with the Burmese judiciary are not something that can be addressed with recommendations of changes in personnel or laws. “It is a problem that ultimately will take decades to address, just as it took decades to create.”


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