While data is difficult to gather, sexual and gender-based violence in Myanmar is prevalent and has been characterized as a “silent emergency” by the United Nations Population Fund.
During a period of historic democratic transition within Myanmar, the rule of law has emerged as a priority issue. The government of Myanmar has repeatedly emphasized the importance of strengthening rule of law for the development of the country as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule. However, the legacy of policies that systematically undermined legal education, an independent judiciary and the private legal profession, combined with unchecked power of state officials and widespread corruption, have led to a serious lack of public trust in justice sector institutions and those who are responsible for dispensing justice. Public awareness of the law, and accountability of state actors for enforcing and upholding the law, will take many years of institutional change to achieve.
IDLO has been involved in a number of rule of law and access to justice projects in Myanmar since establishing a presence there in 2013, and established a field office in Yangon in October 2015.
Recent research shows that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of the leading problems impacting communities across Myanmar. Women in particular face significant and widespread levels of SGBV, with both formal and informal systems failing to provide satisfactory remedies. Inadequate legal protections, combined with pervasive cultural and social stigma, low public legal awareness, and deep mistrust in the formal justice system, pose a daunting range of barriers to accessing justice and other services such as legal, medical and psycho-social support.
In recent years, civil society has played an increasingly important role in strengthening public legal awareness and advocating for access to justice in Myanmar. However, civil society is constrained by a limited understanding of the role of the legal system. Capacity development to enhance the knowledge and skills of civil society actors, as well as state accountability, remains a key priority.
Since 2015, the Rule of Law Centres (ROLCs) in Myanmar, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and IDLO have been conducting training across the country to increase understanding and cooperation between justice providers and the communities they serve.
Yangon, November 11, 2017 - More than 200 people including Government officials, community members, civil society representatives, lawyers and law teachers from diverse organizations took part in a Conference hosted by the Rule of Law Centres (ROLC), implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), at Yangon University today.
Hawng Zawng, Deacon of Labang Baptist Church, WaingMaw Township, Kachin State
John Pearson, former Director of Prosecutions for the Ontario Attorney General’s Ministry in Canada, worked with IDLO supporting the Myanmar Union Attorney General’s Office. He spoke to Victoria Harrison Neves, Strategic Communications Adviser, about his experience in the country.
H.E. U Tun Tun Oo, is the Attorney General of Myanmar. In November 2016, he spoke to IDLO as a special guest at the Assembly of Parties.