Community members, civil society representatives, lawyers and law teachers from diverse organizations participated in an “Open House” event on 23 January 2016 to mark the opening of the Yangon Rule of Law Centre, the latest milestone in the roll-out of the Rule of Law
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.
Myanmar's third Rule of Law Centre, a joint UNDP-IDLO initiative, has opened in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State. The Centre will promote knowledge of the law, as well as training in skills and values, for legal profess
“IDLO will help provide the local community with the legal knowledge and skills needed to apply rule of law principles, such as equality and fairness, to local justice issues important to people in Myitkyina," Kartik Sharma, IDLO’s Country Representative in Myanmar told those gathered at an ‘Open House’ event to showcase the Myitkyina Rule of Law Center.
The Attorney General of Myanmar, Tun Shin, has expressed an interest in IDLO further developing the capacity of his office.
At a meeting with senior IDLO staff in New York, he praised IDLO's approach to capacity development and stressed the importance of building on – and modernizing – systems and skills that already exist in Myanmar.
As many as 80 lawyers, lecturers and civil society representatives have completed an IDLO-supported, three-month rule of law course in Myanmar -- to find their achievements commended by veteran pro-democracy activist and Nobel laureate Aung san Suu Kyi.
Although Myanmar is a Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children in the country still suffer disproportionate risks of early marriage, sexual exploitation, trafficking, neglect and abuse. In order to address these challenges, in 2019, the parliament passed a new Child Rights Law which covers all aspects of a child’s life, including health, education, juvenile justice, children in armed conflict and alternative care arrangements. However, there is still a need to develop rules to guide the law’s implementation.
Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
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.
IDLO is supporting the training departments of the Myanmar Union Attorney General’s Office (UAGO) and the Office of the Supreme Court of the Union (OSCU) to strengthen their capacity development strategies. The long-term goal is to help justice sector institutions implement their strategic priorities of modernizing training programs by improving the knowledge, skills and abilities of judges, law officers and court staff, and enhancing their professional development.
In 2014, the Rule of Law Centres Initiative was launched to increase trust and cooperation between justice providers and the communities they serve. With project offices in Mandalay, Yangon, Myitkyina and Taunggyi, the Rule of Law Centres trained lawyers, law teachers, government officials and civil society representatives on key rule of law and human rights issues and raised awareness of rule of law in communities across the country.