Myanmar: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review by Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada | Joint Submission

Full PDF (ENG)

In July 2020, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada joined Lawyers for Lawyers in submitting a report for the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Myanmar at its 37th session. The review is scheduled to take place in Geneva in January/February 2021.

In the report (.pdf), Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada highlight that Myanmar has not consistently upheld the necessary guarantees for the functioning of the legal profession according to the requirements set out in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. As a result, lawyers encounter difficulties in carrying out their professional duties. This also undermines the proper functioning of the judicial system, including the right to fair trial and effective access to justice.

Lawyers in Myanmar have been subjected to improper interference and harassment by members of the law enforcement agencies and investigative bodies and others. They have also been subjected to threats including death threats, surveillance, and physical attacks, on one occasion leading to the shooting death of a lawyer, U Ko Ni.

The report makes several recommendations to the government of Myanmar including:

  • Immediately take measures to amend the Bar Council Act to ensure the independence of the legal profession and maintenance of professional standards in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
  • Take immediate measures to ensure sufficient safeguards in law and in practice to guarantee the full independence and effective protection against any form of reprisals against lawyers for conducting their professional duties, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Human Rights Defenders.xii It is recommended that Myanmar adopt legislation and practices based on the Model National Law on the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
  • Immediately take effective measures to ensure that crimes, harassment, and other violations against lawyers are and publicly condemned at all levels and that all potentially unlawful deaths are promptly, impartially, independently, and effectively investigated, and that all the perpetrators of such acts are prosecuted, in accordance with the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death.
  • Refrain from any actions that may constitute harassment, persecution, or interference in the legitimate work of lawyers, including criminal prosecution on improper grounds such as the expression of critical views or the nature of cases in which lawyers are discharging their professional functions.
  • Immediately sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and all other core UN human rights treaties.

On 14 July, LRWC and L4L made a joint oral video statement to the UN Human Rights Council highlighting concerns about independence of the legal profession and the need for protection of lawyers in Myanmar.