FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
and its member organization for Burma
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)
Joint press release
Burma: New Parliament must prioritize the repeal or amendment of repressive laws
Paris, Bangkok, 29 January 2016: Burma’s new Parliament must urgently prioritize the repeal or amendment of numerous domestic laws that are inconsistent with international human rights standards, FIDH and its member organization ALTSEAN-Burma said today.
“The new Parliament must begin a process to repeal or amend its arsenal of outdated legislation that has been used for far too long to repress the Burmese people. Retaining these repressive laws would be an inexcusable betrayal of the mandate for change made by Burma’s electorate in the recent election,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.
Members of Parliament (MPs) elected in the 8 November election, along with military-appointed lawmakers, are scheduled to convene in Naypyidaw on 1 February for the first regular session of the National League for Democracy (NLD)-dominated Parliament.
The outgoing Parliament, controlled by Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and military-appointed MPs, has refused to amend or repeal many oppressive laws that are inconsistent with international human rights standards. Twelve of the 16 laws identified by the United Nations as not in line with international human rights standards are still in force.*
In addition, several laws enacted by Parliament during the past five years contain provisions that run counter to international human rights standards concerning the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. These laws include: the 2011 Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law; the 2013 Telecommunications Law; the 2014 Printing and Publishing Law; and the 2014 Media Law.
The four so-called ‘Race and Religion Protection Laws,’ adopted by Parliament between April and August 2015, are contrary to international human rights standards related to freedom of religion or belief, non-discrimination, and women’s rights.
Other new laws, such as the Foreign Investment Law, the Farmland Law, and the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law - all passed in 2012 - prioritize economic interests over the protection of of economic, social, and cultural rights.
“The election of many pro-democracy activists and former political prisoners as new MPs is a promising sign that Parliament will place human rights at the center of its work. Burma cannot afford to have another Parliament that ignores human rights and perpetuates discrimination and impunity,” said ALTSEAN-Burma Coordinator and FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.
Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
Mr. Arthur Manet (French, English, Spanish) - Tel: +33672284294 (Paris)
Ms. Debbie Stothard (English) – Tel: +66818509008 (Bangkok)
*These laws are: the 1908 Unlawful Association Act; the 1923 State Secrets Act; the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act; the 1975 State Protection Law; the 1982 Citizenship Law; the 1985 Television and Video Law; the 1996 Computer Science Development Law; the 1996 Motion Picture Law; the 2004 Electronic Transactions Law; the 2011 Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law; Articles 143, 145, 152, 295(a), 505, and 505(b) of the Criminal Code; and the Criminal Procedure Code.