Advocate U Htay Oo of the Independent Judiciary determined that it is time to free the judiciary from the Administration so that citizens can rely upon the judicial system.
U Htay Oo took the stance at the Myanmar Legal Aid Network Workshop held at the International Business Center in Yangon on September 22. He pointed out that the judiciary after 1962 has been influenced by the administration and it has to be changed immediately.
He added that every democratic nation should ensure the autonomy of the three pillars of the government and citizens' protection by rationally enacted laws so that they would have faith in the rule of law.
“The administrative departments and government officers misused the judiciary as a weapon in the name of rule of law. The same thing happened in England, India, America and in our country”, said U Htay Oo.
The 1947 Constitution states that all attorneys have to follow constitutional laws and the judiciary should be autonomous. After independence in 1948, the judiciary functioned independently without any interference from the administrative pillar. However, in 1962 the government consolidated more authority than was permitted by the law.
“At that time, attorneys had the right to grant bills legally but no one had the guts to go against the government or their projects. It was a time when no one could go against the military junta”, said another Attorney at the workshop.
“Everything was done by direct order of the government. The magistrates who went along with the government’s orders were awarded and given promotions but those who went against the orders were punished. So, the judicial system became ineffective and failed eventually”, explained U Htay Oo regarding the judicial system after 1988.
U Hla Ko from the Independence of Bar Council said that not only laws which were influenced by the administration, but also the Bar Council Law which protects and promotes the rights and welfare of attorneys should be amended.
“In United Kingdom, an attorney is not allowed to accept even a postcard from an accused. If he does, his bar license could be suspended”, said Ms. Rowan Ryrie from the Professional Ethics of Judges, Lawyer and Legal Officials.
In most countries the bar license can be applied for once a year and only lawyers whose applications are approved can practice the law. Moreover, only experienced attorneys can submit arguments to Judges. The judicial system in Myanmar follows different rules and lawyers can practice right after they pass the bar exam.