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Burma’s lower house on Tuesday announced that it approved a report written by the Committee for Rule of Law and Peace and Stability without any reservations.
The parliamentary committee is chaired by Aung San Suu Kyi, a long-time advocate for establishing a society governed by the rule of law.
The Rule of Law Committee’s report criticised Burma’s judicial system and recommended establishing an independent body to monitor the courts, which the report criticized as being subject to manipulation by Union administration officials.
Although the report was approved by the lower house without reservation, several individuals criticised some of the committee’s proposals.
For example, when the Committee was conducting research for the report it solicited feedback from various stakeholders, and Supreme Court Judge Soe Nyunt told the Committee that forming an independent watchdog to monitor courts would interfere with judicial independence.
“In democratic countries such judicial watchdogs don’t exist because democratic countries value and don’t interfere with judicial freedom,” he said. “These countries understand that there would be no justice if the judiciary’s independence was compromised. So I would like to propose approving the committee’s report with a reservation that excludes the creation of an independent body overseeing the courts.”
The Supreme Court judge also criticised certain Committee proposals, and said that foreign investment would decline if the courts lost their independence.
During the lower house debate on the report, the Rule of Law Committee’s secretary, Win Myint, said that one weakness of Burma’s judicial system is that judges are too close to the administration.
A parliamentarian from the White Tiger Shan Party, Nan Wah Nu, stressed the need for all three branches of Burma’s government to work independently from each other.
“People don’t like the current system because all three pillars of power support one another. For many years our country was a dictatorship and all the organs of government simply followed the military’s decisions,” he said.
The Rule of Law Committee summited its report on 29 September and it was approved by the lower house the following day.
The Committee said it plans to establish “rule of law centers” across the country with assistance from the UN and other international donors.